T20 World Cup 2021: Expert Analysis

The Cricket Analyst will provide selections and analysis on the best games of the T20 World Cup 2021. Get these plus a full tournament preview, including team profiles and betting strategies, exclusive to the Betfair Hub.

Remember: you can get better odds on Test cricket, ODIs and the biggest T20 tournaments on the Betfair Exchange.


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Saturday 23rd October – 9:00pm AEDT – Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi

GAME PREVIEW

Australia get their T20 World Cup campaign underway with a testing encounter against a relatively unheralded South Africa side.

Hopes are not especially high for the Aussies coming into this tournament after a run of wretched results in this format, which has seen them drop nine of their past 11 T20 Internationals.

The Australians were missing many of their best players during those matches. However, with a full squad to choose from, their form in the warm-up fixtures has not been much better, scraping home against New Zealand before being comfortably beaten by competition favourites India.

Despite a surplus of top-order players, it seems that they will persist with Mitch Marsh at first drop, while the other main query surrounding the starting XI is whether there will be a place for robotic seamer Josh Hazlewood after he enjoyed an excellent IPL.

South Africa may have slipped under the radar somewhat, coming into the competition off seven consecutive T20I victories. They also won both of their warm-up matches, including a stunning last-ball victory over Pakistan on Wednesday.

One concern to come out of that game was a groin complaint suffered by key spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, with the world’s number-one-ranked T20 bowler only getting through four balls before coming from the field as a precaution.

The Proteas otherwise look relatively settled, with stroke-maker Rassie van der Dussen in scorching form after a brutal century against the Pakistanis.

While they haven’t beaten a lot of the stronger teams recently, I’m not so sure Australia deserve that classification, so it would come as a surprise if South Africa didn’t at least trade decently shorter.

KEY STATS

  • Australia have won only two of their past 11 T20 internationals.
  • South Africa have won their past seven T20 internationals.
  • South Africa have only won three of their past 11 T20 internationals against India, England and Australia.

BETTING STRATEGY

BACK to LAY — South Africa at $2.12 for 1 unit (trade out at $1.65 or less)

Please note: for betting on cricket in-play please call 132 238.

INDIA

The intended hosts and tournament favourites will be looking to claim a long-awaited second crown after they triumphed in the inaugural competition back in 2007, when they beat fierce rivals Pakistan by five runs in a dramatic final. Much has changed since the early days of the shortest format, but India remains a force, seated only behind England in the ICC rankings.

Overall, India look well-balanced and have a number of proven match-winners, so they should certainly feature in the latter stages, however their price is very short and with some question marks over the quality and depth of their pace bowling, I’ll be letting them through to the keeper at this stage.


ENGLAND

The 2010 winners and reigning 50-over champions will be hoping to add another trophy to the cabinet – and they’re certainly not without a chance, boasting a typically power-packed squad that is brimming with talent, particularly in the batting department.

It’s hard to knock England’s recent record, having lost only one of their past 11 T20I series’, which sees them comfortably perched at the top of the ICC rankings. There’s no doubt that a lot rests on the performance of Rashid as England’s only premium spin-bowling option, however in his last two years in the T20I format he has returned 26 wickets at an average of 22.27 and economy rate of just 7.42. Therefore if the leggie can maintain that sort of form to supplement the muscular batting line-up, then there’s every chance that England could become the first team to simultaneously hold the 20-over and 50-over crowns – and I think there’s some value in their price.

Betting Strategy

BACK — England at $4.50 or bigger for 2 units


AUSTRALIA

Despite all their success in test and ODI cricket over the past 30 years, Australia have largely struggled in the T20 arena, with their best result at this tournament a runners-up spot in 2010. More recently, they have lost their past five T20I series’, which has seen them slip down to number seven on the ICC rankings. Granted, their latest struggles against Bangladesh and the West Indies came without many of their first-choice players, but there are still significant issues within their squad as they look to claim a maiden title.

The Australians are the sort of outfit who can suddenly click for a big tournament despite largely struggling beforehand – which is arguably what happened at the 2019 50-over World Cup – and within their squad they do have premium T20 operators in Maxwell, Starc and Zampa. However, when you dig even deeper beyond their latest setbacks, you find a lopsided squad beset by injury concerns and confused role definition, so I’m happily going to take the Aussies on in the Middle East and back that they will remain without a T20 title.

Betting Strategy

LAY — Australia up to $8.50 for 3 units


WEST INDIES

The two-time champions and current holders will be looking to cause another surprise, though they may not fly under the radar quite like they have in previous editions of this tournament. The Windies’ squad is packed with several experienced T20 specialists, led by all-rounder Kieron Pollard and also featuring the likes of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo, with the four of those players alone headed for 2000 combined T20 appearances.

The Windies’ form has been strong enough, winning eight of 14 T20Is that they’ve played this year, including a comfortable 4-1 disposal of Australia at home. There are some question marks over their bowling attack, with plenty resting on the shoulders of the relatively inexperienced Walsh. But no other side can boast such a powerful and deep batting line-up, plus a bucketload of T20 experience to call on, and I think the West Indies are every chance of defending their title. I’ll be backing them to do so.

Betting Strategy

BACK — West Indies at $7.60 or bigger for 1 unit


NEW ZEALAND

The inaugural World Test champions will be looking to add a T20 title to their resume. This is a tournament in which they’ve often flattered to deceive, reaching the semi-finals only twice in six attempts and never progressing beyond that point. Five years ago they remained unbeaten during the group stages, but were then overpowered by a more robust English side in the semis.

The Black Caps certainly have a strong enough squad with plenty of players featuring in the premier domestic T20 competition, so I am loathe to take them on. However, with such an ordinary record away from home, it’s hard to get too excited about their price to claim a maiden T20 crown.


PAKISTAN

The 2009 champions will be looking to cause another surprise here. If they are to come from the back of the field to claim a shock victory, there’s no doubt that captain and talisman Babar Azam will need to make a significant impact on the tournament.

Pakistan’s recent form is promising enough, losing only two of their past nine bilateral T20I series’, but notably they have struggled to beat the bigger sides, winning just three of their past ten matches against England, Australia and New Zealand. Overall, the Pakistanis appear to have one of the better balanced bowling attacks. If they play solely on pitches that generate low-scoring matches, then they could well be in with a chance. But there are just too many question marks over their batting line-up with a potential over-reliance on Babar and not enough power hitting in the middle-order. I’ll be leaving them alone for now.


SOUTH AFRICA

Perhaps a lack of expectation can play into South Africa’s hands as they try to end the long wait for a major ICC trophy. However, whether they have the sufficient quality to make a mark in the Middle East remains to be seen. The likes of Faf du Plessis, Chris Morris, Imran Tahir and the mercurial AB de Villiers are all currently plying their trade in the IPL. But for various reasons none will represent the Proteas in this tournament.

There’s no doubting that despite all the talent on the sidelines, South Africa have the individuals within their squad to exceed expectations. However, they face a tough task in the stronger group and without a proven all-rounder at this level, I can’t quite bring myself to be with them.


AFGHANISTAN

The achievement by Afghanistan to qualify directly for the tournament – ahead of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – has been overshadowed by instability on all fronts. There were doubts raised over their participation due to the country coming under the control of the Taliban. Then further consternation was caused by star leg-spinner Rashid Khan stepping down from the captaincy shortly after the Afghans named their squad, citing a lack of consultation in the selection process. Instead it appears that they will be led by seasoned all-rounder Mohammad Nabi, though former skipper Asghar Afghan could also come under consideration.

If the Afghans find themselves on a turning pitch, then they are capable of springing a surprise, but a lack of experience against top-quality opposition and recent turmoil makes it very difficult to see them getting out of the group stage.


THE QUALIFIERS

Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Ireland, Namibia, Scotland and Oman will all compete in the qualifying stage. They are split into two groups, with the top two progressing to the competition proper.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have not just the greatest pedigree, but the strongest group of players available. Both should have no issues advancing. While both sides can expect to take on the competition favourites, I don’t believe there is any value to be had in backing them to take out the trophy.


BETTING STRATEGY SUMMARY

BACK — England at $4.50 or bigger for 2 units

LAY — Australia up to $8.50 for 3 units

BACK — West Indies at $7.60 or bigger for 1 unit


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