PREVIOUS RESULT: Group Stage knockout
The undoubted minnows of world cricket, Afghanistan have nothing to lose here, with almost everyone certain that they will not make it out of Group A. They came through the ICC World Twenty20 qualifier to get to Sri Lanka, only narrowly losing to Ireland in the final, so many will be surprised to see what an accomplished side Nawroz Mangal’s team are.
TOP BATSMAN: Mohammad Shahzad (3.75) – This wicket keeper/batsman is a big game player, as he proved with several top quality innings in the qualifying tournament. The stocky Shahzad averages over 30 in this form of the game, so his side will need him to produce at no.3 if they are to stay competitive in this tough group.
TOP BOWLER: Dawlat Zadran (3.50) – The 24-year-old seamer was arguably the star bowler in the qualifying tournament with wicket hauls against Ireland, Namibia and Hong Kong the standout performances in a very strong showing.
KEY MAN/ ONE TO LOOK OUT FOR: Nawroz Mangal – The skipper, who has led the side since 2007, may not be the most talented player in his team, but his leadership will prove crucial if Afghanistan are to cause an upset in Sri Lanka.
DID YOU KNOW? This is the second consecutive Twenty20 World Cup Afghanistan have played in; in 2010 they exited at the Group Stage after losses against South Africa and India.
SQUAD LIST: Nawroz Mangal (capt), Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Izzatullah Dawlatzai, Karim Sadeq, Mohammad Jawed Ahmadi, Mohammad Asghar Stanikzai, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Mohd Nasim Baras, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Shapur Zadran.
PREDICTED RESULT: Group stage knockout (1.03)
PREVIOUS RESULT: Winners
England are coming into this tournament lacking the sort of experience that led them to the title in the West Indies in 2010. The shell of that title winning side returns here, but the pressure will be on younger newcomers, particularly the rookie batsmen, to prove they belong at the top table. The ever-competitive Stuart Broad will be desperate for his side to defend their title, but this will be very difficult for an inexperienced side in conditions that traditionally favour others.
TOP BATSMAN: Eoin Morgan (4.50) – Kevin Pietersen scored 248 runs in this tournament in 2010, and if England are to go close again in his absence, then they'll need a similar return from Morgan. The Irishman is the standout class act of the England line-up and with him down to bat at four he should have ample time to score big runs.
TOP BOWLER: Jade Dernbach (5.0) – Spin will obviously be crucial in Sri Lanka but the value pick for top bowler has to be Dernbach. The Surrey seamer’s array of slower balls will fool even the most experienced of international batsmen and since he bowls at the death he is bound to pick up some ‘free’ wickets.
KEY MAN/ ONE TO LOOK OUT FOR: Luke Wright – The Sussex all-rounder would probably be carrying the drinks if Ravi Bopara wasn’t going through the worst run of form in his career – but filling in for Bopara is what makes him a key man. Wright is capable of big hitting at the top of the order and tight bowling under pressure, both of which he will need to produce to fill the void left by Bopara.
DID YOU KNOW? In the 2007 tournament, Stuart Broad was hit for the maximum six sixes in a single over by India’s Yuvraj Singh.
SQUAD LIST: Stuart Broad (capt), Jonny Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Michael Lumb, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright.
PREDICTED RESULT: Super Eight (2.05)
PREVIOUS RESULT: Super Eight
India will always be most peoples’ fancy for this sort of tournament given the exposure all their players have playing in the IPL. A powerful and deep batting line-up will be supported by an array of spin options, but all eyes will be on their seam attack who need to snag the early wickets that are crucial in this format. After stumbling at the Super Eight stage in the last two tournaments the pressure will be on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side to go all the way in Sri Lankan conditions that are bound to suit.
TOP BATSMAN: Gautam Gambhir (4.0) – Gambhir has long lived in the shadows of Dravid and Tendulkar, but he is a world class performer in his own right and I expect him to prove this in Sri Lanka. The Delhi batsman is India’s all-time leading run scorer in this format and opening up in this competition will give him the chance to score the sort of runs that could fire India to the title.
TOP BOWLER: Irfan Pathan (5.0) – Once considered by many to be the next Kapil Dev, Pathan came out of international exile at the end of 2011 and proved he can still produce at the top level. The left-arm paceman will relish conditions in Sri Lanka and his ability to bowl full and straight makes his price seem unbelievable value.
KEY MAN/ ONE TO LOOK OUT FOR: Yuvraj Singh – On his day Singh is the most destructive batsman in world cricket, with 20-ball fifties aplenty, but when out of sorts he can be hard to watch. The truth is little can be expected of Singh, who has just recovered from germ cell cancer, but if he is able to contribute either with bat and ball he makes this Indian side infinitely better.
DID YOU KNOW? Yuvraj Singh scored the fastest fifty in T20 World Cup history - off just 12 balls.
SQUAD LIST: Mahendra Dhoni (capt & wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Piyush Chawla, Ashok Dinda, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Manoj Tiwary.
PREDICTED RESULT: Runners Up (6.50)