• Saturday, June 22, 2024

CRICKET

India favourites as US and West Indies host T20 World Cup

For the first time in its history, the T20 World Cup will be held across two diverse regions: the United States and the picturesque Caribbean islands.

With the International Cricket Council (ICC) expanding the field to include 20 nations, this ninth edition promises to be the most extensive yet. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Cricket enthusiasts worldwide eagerly anticipate the upcoming T20 World Cup, which marks a significant milestone in the sport’s global expansion.

For the first time in its history, the tournament will be held across two diverse regions: the United States and the picturesque Caribbean islands.

With the International Cricket Council (ICC) expanding the field to include 20 nations, this ninth edition promises to be the most extensive yet.

The decision to include more teams reflects cricket’s growing popularity beyond its traditional strongholds, offering newer cricket nations a chance to shine on the world stage.

The United States, a country where cricket has struggled to gain mainstream attention, will host matches in Florida, Texas, and New York.

These venues, chosen strategically to tap into vibrant immigrant communities, are expected to draw massive crowds, especially for high-profile clashes like the much-anticipated India-Pakistan showdown in Long Island.

“T20 World Cup USA, Inc.” CEO Brett Jones highlights the tournament’s dual purpose: celebrating existing cricket aficionados while piquing curiosity among those new to the sport. The event also serves as a catalyst for cricket’s potential inclusion in the Olympics, with the T20 format garnering significant interest.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean, a region synonymous with cricketing excellence, will host the latter stages of the tournament, including the Super Eight stage, semi-finals, and the grand finale at Kensington Oval in Barbados.

India, the champions of the inaugural edition in 2007, stand as the frontrunners for this year’s T20 World Cup, boasting a lineup fortified with players seasoned by the rigorous Indian Premier League.

Veterans Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli may be approaching their final major tournament, fuelled by a determination to redeem themselves after their defeat in the ODI World Cup final last year. Despite India’s stature as a cricketing powerhouse, they have faltered in clinching a major title since their triumph in the 2013 Champions Trophy.

Australia, reigning champions of the ODI World Cup and the World Test Championship, have made strategic decisions, omitting veteran batsman Steve Smith. However, they rely on the explosive batting prowess of David Warner, alongside the experience of pacemen Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.

Australia’s skipper, Mitchell Marsh, acknowledges the competitiveness of the tournament, recognizing five to seven teams as potential victors, emphasizing the significance of timing and seizing pivotal moments.

Defending champions England face the absence of key player Ben Stokes, recuperating from a knee operation. Their hopes rest on skipper Jos Buttler’s ability to deliver stellar performances with the bat.

Co-hosts West Indies, champions in 2012 and 2016, remain formidable contenders, leveraging their prowess in the T20 format and seeking an advantage from their familiarity with regional pitches.

South Africa, New Zealand, and Pakistan also enter the tournament with high hopes, anticipating their chances to make a substantial impact in a competition renowned for its unpredictability.

(AFP)

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