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Comment

Expect usual favourites to go far in the World Cup, but brace for upsets

Australia, England, Pakistan and India have the talent to make the semi-finals, but as West Indies and Sri Lanka have shown, unpredictability is always a factor

Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
23-Oct-2022
West Indies' exit in the first round of the T20 World Cup is testament to how the format is prone to causing upsets  •  David Gray/AFP/Getty Images

West Indies' exit in the first round of the T20 World Cup is testament to how the format is prone to causing upsets  •  David Gray/AFP/Getty Images

T20 cricket is predicated on close finishes and stirring games. However, the brutal losses for West Indies and Sri Lanka, with the miserable failure of the former to reach the second round, are a reminder that T20 also produces upsets.
There's the likelihood of more surprises as the major section of the T20 World Cup gets underway. The unpredictable and dire weather that Australia has recently been experiencing also has to be a factor.
Australia are the defending T20 World Cup champions and they, along with India, England and Pakistan, are the most likely candidates to reach the semi-finals. However, it's worth remembering the tendency for upsets to happen in T20, and to consider the longer boundaries and bouncy Australian pitches.
A successful team needs to exploit not only the extra bounce but encourage opponents to hit to the longer boundaries. In looking for a likely winner, concentrate on balanced pace attacks that contain wicket-taking spinners in a team that compiles viable totals.
Australia, who are defending their crown at home, have the ingredients for success in their own country. Their batting is long and explosive and the bowling covers all bases. Nevertheless, Aaron Finch's unreliable form as a player and how well they field will affect Australia's progress. If those performances are acceptable then a place in the final is well within Australia's grasp.
In Group 2, the clash between India and Pakistan is not only a mouth-watering duel, it could also determine who South Africa may challenge for a semi-final place. India have a huge battle on the bouncy Perth pitch against South Africa and that is South Africa's best chance to unsettle one of the favourites in that group. Pakistan are fortunate to play South Africa at the more spin-friendly SCG. The result of those matches could decide the balance of power in that division.
While India have a strong playing group, their players also benefit from performing in a highly competitive IPL tournament. Their practice matches in Australia will have given India the opportunity to acclimate to local conditions.
The loss of Jasprit Bumrah is unfortunate but his replacement, Mohammed Shami, is a good bowler. If Shami receives a reasonable share of T20 luck then Bumrah's loss won't be too heavily felt.
A successful team needs to exploit not only the extra bounce but encourage opponents to hit to the longer boundaries. Balanced pace attacks that contain wicket-taking spinners will be key
India's batting fortunes are more evenly shared and the brilliant form of Suryakumar Yadav relieves them from having to rely too heavily on Virat Kohli. The success or otherwise of their spinners, and whether Hardik Pandya can clear the longer boundaries, will play an important role for India.
Pakistan don't possess many superstar names, but they have a solid squad. Their progress will depend heavily on the opening partnership of Babar Azam and the aggressive Mohammad Rizwan. They also need opening bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi to be fully fit and performing well. If Afridi is in top form, Pakistan have the bowling combination to fully test India. Their progress will come down to Pakistan's batting consistency, fielding, and their cohesion, which can often be suspect.
Despite some major injury woes, England have chosen sensibly by including a number of successful BBL players. No matter what sort of disturbance Alex Hales causes, picking him was a practical choice, considering his previous success in Australia. Fielding and the ability to cope with Australian conditions will be important, but England have the talent to sneak past New Zealand in their group and qualify for the semi-finals.
The T20 formula suggests South Africa could be a surprise outfit, but their batting and previous World Cup history are dire. If Quinton de Kock has an outstanding tournament and carries the batting then South Africa's excellent bowling will give them a chance.
And therein lies one of the frailties of T20 cricket: in a short game, one individual can have an unnatural effect on the overall result. That helps make choosing a winner difficult but talent says an Australia vs India final is likely. Nevertheless, beware of the tournament-altering upset.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a columnist