Road to 2020 T20I World Cup: A look at how the top-eight contenders are shaping up

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The countdown to the 2020 World Cup has already begun.

The long wait for the 2020 T20I World Cup will come to an end in 12 months’ time with Australia set to play host to the event for the first time in its history.

A total of 16 teams will battle it out for the grand prize Down Under with eight of them starting their campaigns in the first round. Hosts Australia, along with nine top-ranked nations, have been given direct entry to the tournament while the remaining six places are now being filled in the ongoing Qualifier in the UAE.

Next year’s tournament will be the seventh edition overall of the T20 World Cup, which came into existence in 2007 under the avatar of the World T20. Five different winners have been crowned so far in the competition’s history with holders the West Indies being the only team to have clinched the trophy twice.

The shortest format of the international game has thrown up some of the most exciting and entertaining battles between bat and ball and next year’s edition promises to be no different. All the top international sides have already switched their focus to the T20 format as they look to sharpen their preparations for the upcoming battle Down Under.

With just under a year to go until the competition gets under way, we look at how the top eight sides are shaping up.

ENGLAND

sTOKESS (2)

The ODI champions finally broke their drought in the 50-over version of the competition at Lord’s this year, but it was in the T20 format that they found their maiden World Cup success in 2010 in Bridgetown.

Currently ranked No2 in the T20I format, England are reaping the rewards of their extreme white-ball focus over the last four years. That focus was tailored towards winning the 50-over World Cup on home soil, an objective they achieved in the most thrilling of fashions this summer. It also, however, puts them in a great position to repeat that feat next year in the T20 version in Australia.

Click here to see our take on Eoin Morgan and his men’s chances in the 2020 World Cup.

AUSTRALIA

England v Australia - 2nd Specsavers Ashes Test: Day One

The Aussies have been the dominant force in the ODI format with as many as five World Cup titles beside their name, but the same success has eluded them so far in T20Is. Their best-ever campaign in the T20 World Cup remains a runner-up finish in 2010 when they were handsomely beaten by arch-rivals England in the final.

They will fancy their chances of ending that excruciating wait on home soil with the hosts ending up with the title the last time a World Cup was held on their own turf (2015 50-over version). Their big stars such as David Warner and Steve Smith are back in the T20I fold and as such, skipper Aaron Finch has a fine collection of players at his disposal.

Australia’s chances are definitely looking up as we take a look at how their squad is coming together over here.

INDIA

India's 50-over World Cup semi-final exit still hurts.

India’s 50-over World Cup semi-final exit still hurts.

India have always been up there in major ICC tournaments in the past few years with their extremely talented top-order and a constantly improving pace attack. However, the Men in Blue have made a habit of slipping up when it counts most, as shown by their semi-final exits at the 2010 and 2019 50-over World Cups and their 2014 T20 World Cup final loss at the hands of Sri Lanka.

India were the inaugural champions of the T20 World Cup in 2007 and they will be desperate to finally get across the finish line in Australia next year as they seek to justify their standing as the powerhouse of international cricket.

Click here to see how Virat Kohli’s men are shaping up for the 2020 World Cup.

PAKISTAN

BABAR (1)

India’s arch-rivals and neighbours Pakistan have been the kings of the T20 format over the last two years, but that sheen is fading of late with recent series defeats to England, South Africa and a second-string Sri Lanka exposing the gaping hopes which still exist in the squad.

The No1 ranked side have made a slew of changes to their outfit since the arrival of Misbah-ul-Haq in a dual role of chief selector and head coach. Wicketkeeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmed has been axed as skipper of both the T20I and Test squads while also being dropped from both outfits.

In his stead, their batting prodigy Babar Azam was been given the reigns of the T20 squad recently and it will be interesting to see how the new captain and coach influence the squad in the coming year.

Click here to see our take on the Men in Green’s chances in Australia.

NEW ZEALAND

Williamson (2)

Australia’s Trans-Tasman neighbors New Zealand are one team who can never be written off in a major ICC tournament, with the Blackcaps having a stellar history of punching above their weight when it matters most.

They showed that trait in the 2019 World Cup (50-over) in England this year where they were denied by the narrowest of margins of a boundary count in the final at Lord’s. However, the same penchant has been lacking in the T20 World Cup with the Kiwis yet to progress past the semi-final stage in six previous attempts.

Their performances in the shortest format have been up and down with inconsistency being their undoing despite having some talented players. Can they make amends in their neighbours’ back yard next year? Click here to see how they are looking so far.

WEST INDIES

Phil Simmons is back for a second spell as Windies coach.

Phil Simmons is back for a second spell as Windies coach.

Their ODI and Test woes notwithstanding, the Windies are a team who have wholeheartedly embraced the T20 format ever since its inception. The 20-over version seems like it is tailor-made for their free-styled Caribbean flair and it has been exemplified through two World Cup titles for the team, in 2012 and 2016.

The advent of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has only increased the wealth of domestic talent coming through in the T20 format even as their past generation of T20 merchants such as Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo enter their sunset years.

Their 2016 World Cup-winning coach Phil Simmons is back at the helm for a second stint while Kieron Pollard has been appointed as the new T20I skipper. All that and more is covered here as we look at how the Windies are shaping up for a title defence.

SOUTH AFRICA

Quinton de Kock and South Africa make a formidable T20 outfit.

Quinton de Kock and South Africa make a formidable T20 outfit.

The Proteas’ ODI and Test performances have suffered massively of late with the retirements of stalwarts such as Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn (Tests). However, it is not all doom and gloom, particularly in the T20I format, where they are currently ranked as high as No3.

Like New Zealand, the Proteas too have failed to ever make it to the final of the T20 competition with two semi-final exits in 2009 and 2014 being their best finishes to date.

They are also unbeaten in their five most recent bilateral series in the format with their last defeat coming in a one-off T20I against Sri Lanka in August, 2018. Still, a big coaching vacuum is one of their biggest concerns at the moment as we analyse their T20I squad here.

SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka

Unlike the other seven teams mentioned above, Sri Lanka will have to begin their 2020 World Cup campaign in the first round after missing the cut-off for automatic Super 12 qualification.

The islanders have been in freefall in the limited-overs formats, ever since their stalwarts such as Mahela Jayawardane, Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan and Tillakaratne Dilshan hung up their international boots.

Political interference at the board level has long plagued Sri Lanka with the position of the captain becoming a revolving door of late. However, there are a few bright sparks starting to emerge amidst all the doom as their recent 3-0 whitewash of Pakistan in their own backyard showed.

Do not count Lasith Malinga’s men just yet and click here to find out just why.

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