The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced the two groups for the 2021 T20 World Cup. The mega event will be held in Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from October 17 to November 14.
The 2021 T20 World Cup was earlier supposed to be held in India but had to be shifted to the UAE and Oman owing to the pandemic situation in India. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), however, have retained the hosting rights of the event.
Looking at the groups for the 2021 T20 World Cup, Australia, England, South Africa and the West Indies are in one group of Super 12s while India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and New Zealand are in the other group.
The groups have been created based on the rankings of the team as of March 20, 2021. A separate qualifying round (Round 1) will be played, featuring two groups. The top two sides from each group will qualify for the Super 12s.
Ireland, Netherlands, Namibia and Sri Lanka are in Group A of Round 1 whilst Oman, PNG, Scotland and Bangladesh are in Group B.
2021 T20 World Cup Groups: 3 takeaways
With the ICC releasing the groups for the 2021 T20 World Cup, we analyze three takeaways from the announcement.
#1 How India and Pakistan could clash twice in the T20 World Cup
Two former T20 World Cup champions and arch-rivals, India and Pakistan, have been placed in the same group. They are thus guaranteed to meet in the group stage, the first clash since the 2019 50-over World Cup match in Manchester, where India hammered Pakistan by 89 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method.
If both India and Pakistan qualify as the top two teams from their group, they will meet opponents from the other pool in the semi-finals. If both Asian giants then win their respective semis, we could be in for a grand Indo-Pak final. If they were in separate groups, India and Pakistan would have met directly in one of the knockouts (semi-finals or final), depending on their qualification.
India and Pakistan had met in the final of the inaugural T20 World Cup in Johannesburg in 2007. And it was one humdinger of a game, which went right down to the wire.
#2 Tough challenge for defending champions West Indies
West Indies are the only team to have won the T20 World Cup twice. They are the defending champions, having defeated England by four wickets in the 2016 final in Kolkata, with Carlos Brathwaite hammering Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes. Before that, West Indies had captured the crown for the first time in 2012, when they beat Sri Lanka by 36 runs in Colombo.
West Indies will undoubtedly head into the 2021 T20 World Cup as one of the favorites. They have exceptional power-hitters in Andre Russell, skipper Kieron Pollard and, of course, Chris Gayle. West Indies’ bowling has also shown improvement in recent times, with the return of the versatile Dwayne Bravo proving to be a big positive.
Having said that, the West Indies find themselves in a tough group in the 2021 T20 World Cup. England are undoubtedly among the best limited-overs sides at present in world cricket. Australia may have struggled against the Windies recently but once their star players are back, they will be a force to be reckoned with. South Africa proved with their T20I win over West Indies that they are no pushovers in the shortest format.
#3 Great chance for Ireland to qualify for Super 12s
Ireland love playing World Cups and upsetting big teams. Recently, they created history when they clinched their first ODI win over South Africa following a comprehensive 43-run victory in Dublin. While Ireland have made it to Round 1 of the 2021 T20 World Cup, they would be disappointed if they don’t progress to the Super 12s.
They are placed in a group which also includes Sri Lanka, the Netherlands and Namibia. Ireland should be confident of getting past Namibia. They may have also lost the ODI series by a 2-1 margin in the Netherlands last month. But when it comes to ICC events, Ireland always seem to bring out their best.
Experience-wise, Sri Lanka should qualify for the Super 12s. Given their current state though, it wouldn’t be a shock if Ireland defeat the Lankans in the group. The top two sides from the two groups in Round 1 will qualify for the Super 12s. It would be a surprise if Ireland aren’t one of them.