Sri Lanka, Pakistan ahead of rest
Defending champions West Indies have slipped to sixth in the ICC Twenty20 rankings since the previous World T20. The runners-up in 2012, Sri Lanka, have been the most consistent team in the format since, and are ranked No. 1.
Rankings, however, do not reflect the relative strength of T20 teams as much as they do in the longer formats. Ireland, who are No. 9 and are playing the qualifier to get to the main draw of the World T20 - beat the defending champions not so long ago. India, who have played only five matches since the last World T20, were held to a draw in a two-match series by England - a side ranked six places below them. That India have been able to stay at the top of the ranking table despite playing only five games in 16 months only proves that other teams have not won consistently to push them down.
Among top-ranked teams, Sri Lanka have been the most successful with a win-loss ratio of 2.66 during this period. They won eight out of 11 matches. Only South Africa, who beat Sri Lanka by a 2-1 margin in a three-match series last year, and Pakistan have managed to beat them. Pakistan have the next best win-loss ratio - 1.80 - having won nine of their 14 games. England have come to this tournament having played the most T20 internationals among the top sides. However, they won only five of their 15 games. Australia's resurgence as a Test team has coincided with a productive run in T20s too. They won their last five matches - their last loss in a T20 international was against India in October last year. Though South Africa's win-loss ratio of 1.16 suggests an ordinary run, five of their seven wins were against higher-ranked teams - Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Performance in previous World T20s
Sri Lanka are the most consistent team in terms of win-loss ratio, with 16 wins in 25 matches. They have made the semi-finals of the last three tournaments and reached the final in 2009 and 2012. However, in terms of semi-final appearances, Pakistan have been the most successful team, having got to the last four in every World T20. Of the top sides, only South Africa and New Zealand have not appeared in a final.
Impact of spin
If conditions for the qualifying matches in Bangladesh were anything to go by, dew is likely to impact the evening games in this World T20. However, the slow and dry tracks will help spinners when dew is not a factor. Teams with good spin attacks are likely to hold an edge - an area where the subcontinent teams and West Indies might score over other teams. Overall, spinners bowl an average of 4.3 overs more in matches in Asia than they do at other venues (excluding West Indies). While their economy rates on these pitches are only marginally better than when they are bowling outside Asia, spinners are preferred in these conditions because they concede almost a run an over less than fast bowlers.
|Other venues excluding West Indies|
Spinners have proved to be more effective in the Powerplay overs in Asia. With not much movement on offer for the fast bowlers, their extra pace only helps batsmen to score easily. Fast bowlers concede a boundary every five balls on average, spinners go for one every seven balls. In Powerplay overs, the economy rate of spinners is nearly a run less than that of fast bowlers.
T20 records in Asia
As South Africa's T20 record in Asia shows, having quality spinners is not the only way to win in the subcontinent. In the last five years, South Africa played 12 matches in Asia and won eight. Their win-loss ratio of 2.0 is the best among the top teams in Asia. However, in keeping with their reputation of getting bogged down in major tournaments, three of their four losses in Asia came in the last World T20, when they lost to Pakistan, Australia and India. Bangladesh are at the bottom of the table with eight losses in nine games, with their only win coming against West Indies in 2011. Since then and before this World T20, they had lost eight straight matches in Asia.
Sri Lanka have three batsmen among the top five run-scorers in the World T20. Mahela Jayawardene, who is playing his last few T20 games, tops this list with 858 runs at 40.85. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara are the other Sri Lankans in this list. Chris Gayle, who averages 44.26 in World T20s and has scored 664 runs at a strike rate of 152.29, and Brendon McCullum complete the top five.
Sri Lankans lead the bowling charts too, with Lasith Malinga's 33 wickets at 19.78 in the World T20. His economy of 7.71, though, is much higher than his overall T20 economy of 6.63. Ajantha Mendis has been excellent in World T20s, with 31 wickets at 13.48 and an economy of 6.14. The presence of three Pakistan bowlers in the top five shows why they have done well in World T20s. Saeed Ajmal's 32 wickets have come at 15.46 and an economy rate of 6.65. Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul are the other Pakistan bowlers to complete the top five.
Shiva Jayaraman is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo.com