Which is the tougher T20 World Cup Super 12 group?
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Joining Isa Guha in the ICC Digital Preview show, the pair ran the magnifying glass over the groups, blessed by individual talent across the board.
Sammy, a two-time champion of the event for the West Indies, put forward Group 1, which includes England, Australia and South Africa and his former side, plus two qualifiers to only add to the drama.
After their glorious home 2019 Cricket World Cup Campaign, Sammy believes England are historically flexible in T20 World Cup competition, having won the tournament in slow conditions in 2010, and reaching the 2016 Final in India.
“With just two teams qualifying, man’s that super competitive,” the 2016 tournament-winning captain began. “In this stage, every team looking at the group stage will be thinking you’ve got to start well.”
“When you look at England who have been playing some excellent T20 cricket, finalists in the last one in 2016, they won it in the Caribbean.”
“To me what that says, two venues where the pitches are similar – India and the Caribbean – they’ve won and they’ve got to the Final, so their players adjust to the conditions quite well.”
In addition to this, Sammy cited West Indies’ firepower throughout their batting lineup, capable of lifting and belting any attack irrespective the situation.
“When you look at the West Indies, and people might say I’m sounding biased, but in the last four tournaments we’ve managed to get to the final four, winning two out of that.
“Our players, the calibre of players we have, when you look at captain Pollard, he’s back, the Universe Boss Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Jason Holder, Fabian Allen, Evin Lewis, I could go on a long list of guys who can just take the attack to you.”
Already with both teams who fought out a memorable 2016 final, a look further down the group list suggests the path becomes no easier for teams in their attempts to reach this year’s knockout stages. Even before considering the talent of South Africa and two potential qualifiers, Australia, with an empty space in their trophy cabinet, need no extra motivation in UAE.
“You look at Australia who have not gotten their hands on this silverware, they’ll be desperate to get it, the calibre of players they have – so many players who play in the IPL and understand the conditions.”
On the other side Dinesh Karthik, a member of the 2007 winning Indian team, put forward Group 2’s credentials for ‘Group of Death’ bragging rights, citing the teams’ experience in Middle-Eastern conditions, and a buoyant New Zealand coming off their World Test Championship triumph.
With the potential of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or even Oman joining India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in Group 2, things are only made more difficult by the presence of the Black Caps, unanimously considered as one of the tournament’s heavyweights.
“We have a crop of five Asian teams in there and throw in New Zealand who are the top notch team in the last year – in T20 cricket they’ve done really well for themselves, in the World Test Championship you know how well they play as a team,” Karthik explained.
“They’re a team with limited resources but every time they rock up to a multi-nation tournament they find ways to consistently punch way above their weight.”
“A lot of people saw the groups when they came out and said group A is much tougher, and Daren Sammy is laughing there, but I’m telling you it’s Group B – five Asian teams come through and you have New Zealand there, that is the tougher group.
With Pakistan holding a bulk of their international cricket in UAE, a number of players throughout the group also have experience in domestic franchise leagues in the country, and look forward to another IPL in the lead-up to the tournament.
“The IPL will be just happening before that. A lot of the guys are part of the PSL and other leagues so they’ve all played in Dubai. Dubai is home to a lot of the players.
“I’m telling you these six teams, they have got to be zoning in right now as we speak if they want to have any chance in this tournament. It is a tough group. And I’m really looking forward to some high octane action.
“When it comes to a multi-nation tournament and it’s hard as Group B is, you better rock up every day. You need to win at least four to stand a chance so you’ve got only one bad day that you can afford to have.”
“If you’re talking about a tournament like that with six gun teams in Group B - Daren Sammy is laughing there, you’ve got an easy group bro! – for us it’s going to be hard work.”
Super 12 action at the T20 World Cup begins on October 23.