Sri Lanka is the venue for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 cricket tournament that begins on Tuesday, and on home soil the hosts will be fancied to go one better than when runners-up to Pakistan two years ago. That was in England of course, and although past history reveals that none of the three hosts so far has made it to the later stages, the feeling is that with players of the calibre of Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan to rely on, that stat will be broken.
Indeed the aforementioned duo looked in good form as they helped see off the West Indies in a recent warm up game in Colombo. Mind you, we should maybe not read too much into that result, as with the likes of Chris Gayle, Kieren Pollard and a fit again Darren Bravo, the West Indies, many people’s fancy to go all the way, will surely improve markedly when they play their first match against Australia next Saturday.
Sri Lanka get proceedings under way when they meet Zimbabwe in the opening tie on Tuesday, and that should result in a confidence-boosting victory for the hosts.
Obviously this competition overall presents a stiff test of their credentials, with the world’s best players in opposition, many of whom will line up for India, whom many see as the team to beat again, boasting players of the quality of Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni, Their opener against Afghanistan on Wednesday represents little more than a practise match ahead of the tie with England a week on Tuesday.
England themselves have something to prove of course after being deposed as the number one side by South Africa, and with no Kevin Pieterson to call on it will be tough for them to hold on to the trophy. However, the batting looks solid enough, so as long as the likes of Broad and Swan do their bit with the ball, a semi-final berth should be achievable.
As for the South Africans, this shorter format will be a real test, and although Hashim Amla can be relied upon to get the bulk of the runs, it is the bowling that will be put to the test, with the slower wickets not conducive to a pace attack. As for Australia, it will be a surprise if they manage to pull it together, given the make-up of the squad. Watson will get runs and Hilfenhaus the bulk of the wickets perhaps, but they don’t appeal as likely winners either.
That leaves Pakistan as perhaps the value call here. Runners-up in the inaugural competition in 2007, winners in 2009, and semi-finalists two years ago, they have all the ingredients to reach the final again. Granted the batting is not their strong point, but even so Kamran Akmal and Shahid Afridia are class players, the latter of course being top bowler in the tournament overall as well. Umar Gull is right behind him in the stats table and Saeed Ajmal with 23 wickets, means Pakistan bowlers occupy three of the first four places. That is where their strength lies, and it should be more than enough to see off Australia and Bangladesh in Group A on route to a semi-final place.
The Twenty20 groups are as follows.
A: Pakistan, Australia, Bangladesh
B: Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Zimbabwe
C: South Africa, India, Afghanistan
D: West Indies, England, Ireland
Twenty20 Cricket World Cup Odds
Whilst looking for the best odds available you should also consider whether you are getting the best deal with your online bookie, many bookmakers will be offering free bets, money back offers and sign up bonuses that will help you make the most out of your bankroll. We have put together a list of the best sign up bonuses on offer from the most reliable bookies along with reviews of the services they offer. Paddy Power have also produced a great money back deal on the Twenty20 World Cup to get your cricket betting off the mark, read all about it here.
Take a look at our rundown of the best odds available for the Twenty20 World Cup below: