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The Financial Express

ASIA vs SENA countries: Who are the World Cup favourites?


Photo Courtesy: DNA India Photo Courtesy: DNA India

Since the inception of World T20s, the Asian sides have dominated the event to a major extent. 

The first edition was won by India, followed by Pakistan in the second. Sri Lanka being the side with the highest win percentage (64.28 per cent), reaching the finals for the most times (thrice), and winning the trophy once, shows the supremacy of the South Asian sides in this competition. 

Teams like Pakistan and Afghanistan have always treated UAE as their second home. Both these teams have played plenty here, and have done amazingly well. Hence adjusting to these conditions won’t be a problem for any of these sides. 

Moreover, Pakistan have a clean record in UAE in the last eleven matches they played here. Being one of the most successful teams in this format, and dominating the top five of the ICC T20I team rankings for years, Pakistan is a favourite in this World Cup.

Afghanistan can come as a surprise package, stating their past records in UAE. Since 2018, they haven’t lost a single game in this region, and with players like Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Qais Ahmed, and Mujeebur Rahman, who has been playing franchise cricket all over the world, it will be a side competing against the tournament favourites and might just enter the race for a spot in the Semi-Finals. 

Meanwhile, India will be slightly ahead of every other team in the tournament as all their players have been playing the Indian Premier League (IPL). In terms of preparations, and settling in with the conditions, the men in blue are on high advantage, stating they have been playing a lot of cricket in UAE for the past one year. 

Already having one T20 World Cup in their trophy cabinet and with a win percentage of 64.06 per cent (second highest after Sri Lanka), India will walk into the event as one of the favourites. Bangladesh remain the weakest link among the Asian teams in T20 format.

On the other hand, Among the SENA countries, only England was able to clinch the trophy once. Despite having the third-highest win percentage in the tournament (60.00 per cent) and reaching the Semi-Finals twice, South Africa has never been able to reach the Finals of this event. 

With a similar pattern, New Zealand will look to remove their semi-finals curse like South Africa. However, having lost their first two games, it is quite unlikely that South Africa will turn things around while New Zealand are still very much in the race. 

The teams from Oceania, Australia and New Zealand, haven’t had the best of times in Asia in the recent past. Both these sides lost an away tour to Bangladesh, which shows how they get exposed to hot and humid environments. 

Their records in UAE aren’t that pleasant either, with New Zealand winning only one out of the seven games and Australia winning one out of the four games they played there. 

Both South Africa and England are missing out on key players, on their way forward to the World Cup. South Africa has a relatively inexperienced squad, with important players like AB De Villiers, Faf Du Plessis and Imran Tahir not being part of the team. 

On the other hand, England had to leave out two of their best cricketers, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes, who are considered to be lethal in this format of the game. 

The Aussies, who are one of the most successful sides in the ODI  format, are yet to win the T20 World Cup. Hence, the hunger will be shown by the Kangaroos, as they fight against the more successful sides of this tournament in Group A. 

Contrarily, New Zealand is in the group of Asian heavyweights. But for them, having a rather pleasant campaign last time-- beating India in their home and reaching the Semi-Finals, the Kiwis will fight for their second ICC trophy in the same year.

For the Asian heavyweights and the SENA dominants, it’s all to play for. With franchise cricket being played all over the world, cricketers from every other nation are well aware of each other and have adjusted well to the various conditions. 

However, T20Is are historically dominated by the Asian sides. As the World Cup is being played in the UAE, it can be predicted as another Asian dominated event. 

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