PREVIOUS RESULT: Runners up
Australia are not the limited-overs force that won back-to-back World Cups but they still boast a side packed with world class talent. A mixture of experienced campaigners and Twenty20 specialists should ensure the former finalists are competitive, but the lack of a world class spinner could prove the telling void on the spin-friendly pitches of Sri Lanka.
TOP BATSMAN: David Warner (3.25) – Warner was considered a Twenty20 specialist until his recent emergence in the Test side, and his destructive hitting is still best suited to this format. The New South Wales opener bats without fear and should he last more than ten overs there’s a decent chance he’ll have a hundred to his name.
TOP BOWLER: Mitchell Starc (5.00) – Starc only made his Twenty20 international debut earlier this month but English and Australian cricket fans will be well aware of his worth in this format. The left-arm paceman starred for Yorkshire in England Twenty20 and New South Wales in the inaugural Big Bash so his early wickets will be crucial if Australia are to figure in the latter stages.
KEY MAN/ ONE TO LOOK OUT FOR: Mike Hussey – Few will ever forget the semi-final of this tournament two years ago, when Hussey dragged his side into the final single-handedly. ‘Mr Cricket’ may bat in the middle order of this side but his presence is always crucial should the flashier players at the top of the order fail.
DID YOU KNOW? After retiring from the game in 2008, spinner Brad Hogg returned last year and will represent Australia in this tournament at the grand old age of 41.
SQUAD LIST: George Bailey (capt), Dan Christian, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hogg, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.
PREDICTED RESULT: Super Eight (2.10)
PREVIOUS RESULT: Group Stage
Ireland burst onto the international scene in 2007 when they knocked Pakistan out of the ODI World Cup and have since proven to be a competitive outfit at this level. William Porterfield’s side won the qualifying tournament to make it to Sri Lanka and will be confident of ruffling a few feathers once again. Despite losing the likes of Eoin Morgan to England, the Irish team still have plenty of talent in their line-up with a couple of decent spinners who should have a big part to play this month.
TOP BATSMAN: Paul Stirling (4.25) – The Middlesex opener can be a bit hit-and-miss, but if he gets in he has the ability to score big runs fast - a point proven by his four ODI hundreds. With the Irish expected to play just two games in this tournament, I feel he represents decent value to top their batting charts.
TOP BOWLER: George Dockrell (3.75) – I’m not saying anything revolutionary when I say that spin will be crucial in Sri Lanka but in Dockrell, Ireland have a real talent who could turn a few heads. The 20-year-old slow left-armer averages a very impressive 13 with the ball in this format, so expect to see oppositions being very wary during his four overs.
KEY MAN/ ONE TO LOOK OUT FOR: Kevin O’Brien – A 50-ball century in a World Cup victory over England last year propelled O’Brien onto the world stage as a big-hitting batsman capable of winning a game of his own. An average of just 11 in Twenty20 internationals flatters to deceive but give him 25 balls in Sri Lanka and he’ll likely return more than 50 runs.
DID YOU KNOW? Batsman Ed Joyce returned to the Ireland line-up in 2011 having been away since 2006, playing 17 ODIs for England - including two against Ireland!
SQUAD LIST: William Porterfield (capt), Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, Ed Joyce, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien (wk), Boyd Rankin, Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Andrew White, Gary Wilson (wk).
PREDICTED RESULT: Group Stage (1.10)
PREVIOUS RESULT: Super Eight
It has been a few years since the West Indies have been real contenders at a world tournament but I think they will surprise a few in Sri Lanka and be around at the sharp end. A batting line-up full of massive hitters rivals the best around, so they could be dark horses if their bowlers are able to contain the opposition.
TOP BATSMAN: Chris Gayle (2.0) – The chilled-out Jamaican is the most destructive batsman in world cricket, holding the record for the most Twenty20 centuries with eight. Gayle may not be much value at 2.0 but he is the closest thing to a dead cert as he always performs on the big stage.
TOP BOWLER: Sunil Narine (2.65) – This West Indies bowling attack is certainly not the most potent of recent times but Narine is a top class performer. The spinner cost Kolkata $700,000 at this year’s IPL auction but he repaid them handsomely as he was named the Player of the Tournament, taking 24 wickets to help the Knight Riders win the tournament.
KEY MAN/ ONE TO LOOK OUT FOR: Kieron Pollard - Pollard is effectively a freelance Twenty20 cricketer and he demands top dollar because he is capable of winning a match with a few flashes of his blade. If the huge Trinidadian lives up to his billing in Sri Lanka you can expect to see the West Indies posting totals in excess of 200.
DID YOU KNOW? Chris Gayle was the first player to make a hundred in a T20 World Cup match – he scored 117 against South Africa in 2007.
SQUAD LIST: Darren Sammy (capt), Samuel Badree, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.
PREDICTED RESULT: Semi-final (4.25)