WORLD T20 2016 PREVIEW here.

Four_Semi_Finalists

1) Likely Semi-finalists: India, Australia, Sri Lanka, West Indies.

India start as favourites in home conditions. Not only do they have the strongest batting unit, and that too by a fair distance, they also have several big-match players and are overall the most consistent team going into the tournament.

Australia, interestingly have a high impact batting unit but amongst the weakest bowling attacks in the tournament.

Sri Lanka is one of the only two teams in the tournament (the other being New Zealand) whose bowling has a higher impact than their batting. In fact, they have the second-best bowling unit in the tournament.

West Indies have a number of big-match players who have been successful with their respective IPL franchises.

2) Dark Horse: Pakistan.

Pakistan are a dangerous unit with match-winners both with the bat and ball. They have the joint second-highest impact batting unit (along with South Africa) and the joint third-highest bowling unit (again, along with South Africa) going into the tournament.
Lately though, their batting has let them down and their form has dipped considerably since the 2014 World T20 in Bangladesh.
But they have the maximum number of big-match players and should they make it to the semi-finals they would be a difficult team to stop.

3) Team with strongest batting unit: India.

India has an 11% higher Batting Impact than the second-best batting units – South Africa and Pakistan. While Suresh Raina is the highest impact Indian batsman and the fifth-highest impact ever in T20 cricket history (min. 50 matches), Virat Kohli is the highest impact batsman in T20I history. Both he and Rohit Sharma have been in scintillating form in the last couple of years. With MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh showing signs of getting their striking powers back and Hardik Pandya’s ability to hit a heavy ball, the Indian batting will pose a threat to the best of bowling attacks on flat home tracks.

4) Team with weakest batting unit: New Zealand.

Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill, New Zealand’s highest impact batsmen in T20Is and T20 (domestic and international) cricket respectively, will be the key to their fortunes up the order. The absence of Brendon McCullum will hurt them more than ever. The middle and lower-middle order – Colin Munro, Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott and Luke Ronchi, though promising, haven’t lived up to their potential yet.

5) Team with strongest bowling unit: New Zealand.

New Zealand, courtesy their pace attack comprising of Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan and Adam Milne are, by far, the post potent bowling unit in the World T20.
In McClenaghan they have the highest impact pace bowler in T20 cricket history (min. 50 matches).
However, lack of experience in the spin department could be a potential handicap for the BlackCaps.

6) Team with weakest bowling unit: England, Australia.

England will be relying heavily on David Willey who is the only pace bowler in their squad who has a good T20 record. Liam Plunkett and Reece Topley have very average numbers to show for in this format. Adil Rashid has been in excellent form lately with an exceptional performance in the Big Bash League 2015-16 but overall his T20 numbers are not as impressive as his ODI statistics. Chris Jordan does not even qualify as a bowler in T20 cricket ( Bowling Impact less than 1).

Also, none of their bowlers have played in the IPL so they have no familiarity of bowling in Indian conditions in T20 cricket – this will be a huge handicap for England.

The absence of Mitchell Starc is a big blow for the Australians. Andrew Tye is the highest impact bowler in the side but he has very little international experience. Nathan Coulter-Nile, who has been the second-highest impact pace bowler in T20I cricket in the last couple of years (min. 10 matches) will hold the key with the new ball. But his overall T20 numbers are middling.

The selection of Josh Hazlewood is baffling. He has a good T20 record but barring a one-off against South Africa has not played a single match in this format in the last couple of years. Jason Behrendorff, who has been in excellent form in the last couple of years would have been a better choice.

The preference for leggie Adam Zampa over Cameron Boyce is also surprising. The latter has a higher impact with a better ability to take wickets as compared to Zampa who has been more restrictive.

7) Team with propensity to score most runs: India.

Virat Kohli has scored the maximum proportion of runs in T20I history while Rohit Sharma has been scoring big in the last couple of years. Suresh Raina has consistently scored big runs for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL.

8) Team with a weakness in run-making: Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka will rely heavily on their openers, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal (both have a decent record) to score big. But the rest of the batting line-up will struggle to put up the big runs.

9) Most attacking batting unit: West Indies.

Andre Russell and Chris Gayle are amongst the highest five Strike Rate Impact (ability to score at a rate higher than the match norm) batsmen in T20 history. Darren Sammy is the second-highest Strike Rate Impact batsman in T20I history.

10) Most sluggish batting unit: Sri Lanka.

Dilshan, surprisingly, has a negative Strike Rate Impact overall in his T20 career, which means he scores runs at a rate lower than the match norm. Even Chandimal and Angelo Mathews have a poor Strike Rate Impact in T20 cricket. The onus will be on Milinda Siriwardana and Thisara Perera to up the ante lower down the order.

11) Teams with ability to absorb maximum pressure while batting: India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa.

Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma absorb the maximum pressure (of falling wickets) for India.

Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews often come under pressure for Sri Lanka and score tough runs.

Shoaib Malik is amongst the highest Pressure Impact batsmen in T20I history. Sarfraz Ahmed and Umar Akmal also play well under pressure.

Farhaan Behardien, Faf du Plessis, David Miller and JP Duminy are the best in this regard for South Africa.

12) Strongest chasing team: India, Pakistan, West Indies.

Virat Kohli is the highest Chasing Impact batsman in T20I history. Raina and Yuvraj Singh are the other good chasers in the Indian line-up.

Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed are strong chasers for Pakistan.

Chris Gayle is the highest Chasing Impact batsman in T20 history while Andre Russell will hold the key batting in the lower middle-order.

13) Team most susceptible in a chase: Sri Lanka, New Zealand.

Dilshan and Chamara Kapugedera are decent when chasing though the rest of the Sri Lankan batting line-up tend to crumble under scoreboard pressure.

Guptill is the best New Zealand batsman in chases in T20 cricket. Ross Taylor and Williamson have been good chasers in the last couple of years but the rest of the batting line-up struggles when batting second.

14) Highest wicket-taking team: South Africa, New Zealand.

Imran Tahir has the highest proportion of top/middle order wickets while Dale Steyn has the best ability to polish off the tail (after Malinga) in T20 history.

While Mitchell McClenaghan is amongst the best wicket-taking fast bowlers in T20 history, Adam Milne has been in lethal form for New Zealand in the last couple of years. With Trent Boult and Tim Southee also capable of running through opposition sides, New Zealand’s bowling will be a handful for any team.

15) Team with a wicket-taking problem: West Indies.

The absence of Sunil Narine will hurt West Indies badly in spinner-friendly conditions in India. Although Samuel Badree has been amongst the wickets lately he has been underutilized in the IPL and not really used as an attacking option. His overall wicket-taking numbers as such are not as impressive.
Jerome Taylor will be their best bet with the new ball. The rest of the bowling lacks teeth and could be found wanting.

16) Most economical bowling unit: Pakistan.

The three Mohammad’s – Sami, Irfan and Amir along with Shahid Afridi make Pakistan a highly restrictive bowling unit.

17) Most uneconomical bowling unit: England.

England will rely heavily on Adil Rashid to keep it tight in the middle overs. He was the highest impact bowler in the Big Bash League 2015-16 and amongst the most restrictive bowlers of the tournament.

Amongst the faster men, Willey, Plunkett and Topley are not particularly impressive when it comes to controlling the flow of runs while Jordan has a negative Economy Impact (he concedes runs at a rate higher than the match norm). Steven Finn’s absence due to injury is a big loss to England in this regard.

18) Most mercurial side (high failure rates): England.

Liam Dawson and Eoin Morgan have a failure rate in excess of 50%. Jason Roy, Liam Plunkett, Alex Hales and James Vince have a failure rate of 45% or higher making England the most inconsistent side going into the tournament.

19) Most imbalanced side: New Zealand (maximum difference between batting and bowling).

New Zealand have the highest impact bowling unit but the lowest impact batting unit in the tournament.

20) Most number of big-match performers in a side: Pakistan.

The Pakistan team, cumulatively, has 21 tournament-defining performances (TD) between all its players.
Shoaib Malik has the maximum number (8) of TD performances for any player in T20 cricket history. Hafeez has 4 though he would only be playing as a batsman in the World T20. Sharjeel Khan, Wahab Riaz, Ahmed Shehzad and Shahid Afridi have 2 TDs each.

 

WORLD T20 2016 PREVIEW here.

 

Nikhil Narain
Illustrations- Vasim Maner