Check out Richard Mann’s outright betting preview for the ICC T20 World Cup, which begins on Saturday with the Super 12 stage in Australia.
Cricket predictions: ICC T20 World Cup
3pts India is 7/2 to win the T20 World Cup (General)
>>Sports Betting OKBET Philippines
This year’s ICC T20 World Cup is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing editions in recent memory, with Australia and its generally good pitches promising to be the ideal host to exciting cricket played by some talented but equally flawed contenders.
In fact, it’s difficult to recall a World Cup where so many of the leading contenders had major flaws in their squads, but INDIA appear to tick most boxes and are a solid 7/2 bet.
While Jasprit Bumrah’s absence from a bowling unit that is more about skill and guile than the bustle and brawn typically required of fast bowlers in these conditions, there is a touch of class to the attack, and that is most certainly the case with the batting.
India’s deft attack can defeat Australia
That pace attack still includes Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami, two excellent new-ball operators with extensive experience in all formats who took wickets in the recent warm-up win over Australia.
India has two rising stars in this format in Harshal Patel and Arshdeep Singh, whose expertise at the death promises to give India an advantage at such a crucial stage of the game. Throw in Ravi Ashwin’s spin, as well as his knowledge and competitive spirit, and this looks like a pretty good bowling group.
I would prefer some extra height and pace, but England would prefer Jofra Archer and Reece Topley to be available, Australia not to have warmed up for their title defense with a string of losses, and South Africa and, to a lesser extent, Pakistan not to be concerned about the strike-rates of their respective opening partnerships.
Welcome to the T20 World Cup, where there are many unanswered questions and flaws are welcomed.
India’s bowling ranks well in my opinion, with the exception of the occasional missing piece, but it’s the batting that really excites me.
Rohit Sharma is a white-ball legend whose captaincy has transformed this T20 side from the timid outfit we saw in the UAE last year to an imposing line-up that has batted freely and scored big runs for fun since.
The Asia Cup was a major disappointment, but Sri Lanka won it, and because it was so close to the World Cup, it appeared that India and Pakistan were preparing for it.
Following that, India scored 208 against Australia at home, then chased down 187 against the same opponents before scoring 237-3 against South Africa. This batting lineup has gained confidence and appears to be peaking at the right time.
Rahul finds his form as he bats
The improved form of KL was critical to this. Rahul, who has long been an IPL star, appears to be on the verge of breaking into international cricket in this format. Rahul has six half-centuries in his last nine innings leading up to the World Cup, which will come as a huge relief to Rohit, who now knows he has a stable opening partner for Australia.
Group 2 team-by-team instructions
Virat Kohli’s form has also been a major talking point, and while he has not recovered as quickly as Rahul, he scored a century against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup and has added a couple of fifties since.
Importantly, his strike rate has improved, and I believe that having more pace to work with on faster pitches in Australia will suit these two wonderful touch players perfectly.
The top three appear to be particularly strong, but Suryakumar Yadav may emerge as the best of the bunch. English fans will recall his stunning century in a losing cause at Trent Bridge last summer, and for a man who has batted in the middle order for the majority of his career, nine half-centuries and a century from 32 T20I innings is very impressive.
Yadav’s strike-rate in those matches is a blistering 176.81, and when you consider that Hardik Pandya (148.49) and Dinesh Karthik (150.82) follow him in the order, this is an engine room capable of wreaking havoc. Yadav is the leader of the pack, but he will have help from two devastating finishers.
With so much class and experience above them, this is a fantastic batting line-up, and it’s worth noting that Rishabh Pant will most likely be warming the bench when the tournament begins, such is the strength of the top six.
I’m sure Rohit believes his batting lineup is capable of posting and chasing big scores in Australia, so if he can manage well and get the most out of his bowlers, India should come very close.
IPL experience can benefit India on the biggest stage
Because of the big-match experience that the IPL has given so many of this squad, India are always a dangerous proposition in the latter stages.
Of course, other teams have it, but Rohit is one of the most successful captains in IPL history. This year’s winning captain was Pandya.
Specials for the T20 World Cup
That knowledge becomes invaluable in big games and big tournaments. I believe it contributed to Australia’s unstoppable run in the UAE when Pakistan and New Zealand faltered near the finish line, and this Indian team is loaded with big-match players and winners.
Given that India aren’t bulletproof, the 7/2 on offer may be too short for some, but after backing South Africa at 10/1 a few months ago before a couple of injuries hampered their preparations, Rohit’s team now make the most sense.
India, South Africa, and Pakistan are expected to compete in a three-way battle to advance to the semi-finals from Group 2, with Bangladesh expected to be a soft touch.
Despite the loss of Rassie van der Dussen, who finished the 2021 World Cup as South Africa’s leading run-scorer, and Dwaine Pretorius, whose all-round skills provided invaluable balance, I believe this South African team is still competitive.
The batting has become more aggressive, as it has in India, and the two teams played a high-scoring series earlier this year before the Proteas went to England and beat them on their home turf.
Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram provide real quality, with David Miller and Rillee Rossouw providing firepower.
However, there may be even more to be excited about with bowling. Anrich Nortje is big, strong, and quick, and he appears to be ideal for Australia. He was particularly impressive in the UAE last year, and Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi aren’t far behind.
There are plenty of spin options, with Keshav Maharaj reliable throughout the innings and Tabraiz Shamsi a genuine wicket-taker. South Africa may only need to use one of those two batsmen in most games, with Tristan Stubbs’ raw power complimented by his useful off spin.
Make no mistake about it: this is a dangerous group. Only those two major injuries and captain Temba Bavuma’s form are in the negative column, and while they aren’t alone in that regard, I’m content with the 10/1 already in the book and don’t feel the need or desire to double down on that position.
Pakistan and New Zealand are on their way out
South Africa and India are my picks to win Group 2, with Pakistan’s excellent pace attack and dependable opening partnership just not enough to compensate for a weak middle order that will let them down at some point.
Another nagging doubt about Pakistan is that they played so well in the UAE in conditions they were familiar with, but still couldn’t complete the job. I don’t believe this squad is in any better shape a year later – in fact, I believe the middle order has regressed – and this makes me skeptical of their chances in Australian conditions.
A near-miss in the UAE is also why I’m willing to look past last year’s runners-up New Zealand, a solid outfit that I believe will be outgunned somewhere along the way in the coming weeks.
That’s what happened in last year’s final against Australia, and I’m not sure Kane Williamson, Tim Southee, or even Trent Boult are now capable of matching or exceeding those efforts, or those when they were beaten in consecutive 50-over World Cup finals in 2015 and 2019.
2022 Safer Gambling Week
This has been a fine side with plenty to offer, but one would think they’ll need a personal best to finally get their hands on a World Cup, and I’ve seen enough from Williamson, Southee, and Martin Guptill to suggest the light is just beginning to fade with these fantastic servants to New Zealand cricket.
Conditions are another consideration. Surprisingly, I believe the UAE’s style of play was suited by some slow pitches, implying that accumulation with the bat and guile with the ball won out in some relatively low scoring matches.
They might need some more va-va-voom in Australia, and I don’t see Thierry Henry showing up in a Renault Clio with his whites in the boot, ready to give Williamson’s side the X-Factor they seem to be lacking.
That leaves Australia and England as strong favorites to advance from Group 1, and it would be foolish to dismiss the defending champions, despite the fact that their preparation has included a series loss to England and a loss to India.
Group 1 team-by-team instructions
Nonetheless, Australia can usually be counted on to peak at the right time, and home advantage should not be underestimated.
Furthermore, from top to bottom, this is a very strong side on paper. Unlike last year, David Warner comes into this event in fantastic form, while an already potent middle order has been bolstered by the emergence of Tim David, who has taken franchise cricket by storm with his impressive late-innings ball striking.
The bowling in the subcontinent ticked most boxes, so a pace attack led by Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, and Pat Cummins should thrive at home. Adam Zampa covers spin, but whether they can continue to find four overs from Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell if put under severe pressure in the field is a minor concern.
Also concerning is the form of skipper Aaron Finch, who has had a terrible year with the bat and appears to be a far cry from the player he once was. The runs against India on Monday were a big boost, but with Mitchell Marsh returning from injury and Maxwell running low on runs, there may be some weakness in the top four – Warner aside.
England relies on batting power
Though, in terms of favorites, I don’t believe Australia’s batting is as strong as India’s or England’s.
Jonny Bairstow’s freak injury at the end of the summer promised to be a huge blow to England’s chances, especially after Jos Buttler’s reign as white-ball captain began with a whimper.
Mark Wood adds speed to England’s attack.
The recent trip to Pakistan, on the other hand, was a worthwhile exercise for many reasons, not least because it allowed people like Harry Brook and Phil Salt to make their mark and seize welcome opportunities.
Sam Curran shone with the ball, while Mark Wood made a welcome return from injury. Now that Reece Topley has been ruled out of the tournament, Wood and Curran will have to shoulder a lot of responsibility with the ball, and I’m worried about England at the end, especially if they bowl second in a knockout game; Jofra Archer’s return can’t come soon enough.
Buttler will be pinning his hopes on the fearsome batting line-up he leads, and a couple of fifties against Australia recently will have done him plenty of good, as will runs for Dawid Malan, who continues to churn out the runs and promises to be at his best in conditions that suit his game so well.
If England is allowed to do things on their terms, they have the firepower to defeat any opponent. Australia has already felt their wrath in recent days, but the ball has enough unknowns to put you off at 3/1.
And here we are: a World Cup that promises intrigue and great entertainment from flawed but talented teams.
In a tournament where big runs are expected and bowlers will likely be put under severe pressure at the end, I’m backing India’s attack to use their vast skills honed over years of toil in the IPL to carry the 2016 champions to their second T20 World Cup victory.