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5 Things We Learned From The Opening Week Of The 2021 T20 World Cup

New Zealand's Martin Guptill gets bowled by Pakistan's Haris Rauf
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It has been a fascinating opening week of the Super 12 stage of the 2021 T20 World Cup with plenty of surprises and some world-class performances. England and Pakistan have stormed the competition so far with two wins apiece, while things are looking particularly tricky for the defending champions West Indies, who will be hoping for a miracle after losing their first two fixtures.

There have been some fascinating trends emerging from the opening week of the tournament, and here are five things we learned from week one of the T20 World Cup.

1. The toss and the dew are going to play a huge role


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Eight of the first nine games in the Super 12 stage have been won by the team chasing, which indicates two things. Firstly, the dew has played a massive role in aiding the chasing teams as it makes it harder for the spinners to grip the wet ball while also helping the pitch flatten out more in the second innings. 

Secondly, teams batting first are unable to assess what a par score is, and more often than not they bat with less intent than required to make a winning total. The likes of India, West Indies and New Zealand have all struggled to accelerate through the middle overs in their matches so far, leaving them 15-20 runs short of what ultimately should have been a winning score.

2. Nothing beats pace like fire


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Considering the slow and low nature of pitches in the UAE, spinners were tipped to be the difference-makers in this competition. However, the most successful bowlers in the opening round of the tournament have all been fast bowlers instead. More specifically, the bowlers who have had the most joy are the ones who bowl at a high pace such as Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi, Anrich Nortje and Tymal Mills

Hostile quicks such as Nortje and Lockie Ferguson have also had massive success in the recent IPL, and the mixture of genuine ball speed while hitting hard lengths make life very difficult for batters, no matter what the conditions are.

3. England are the team to beat


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England have rinsed the competition in the opening week of the Super 12 stage, registering two dominant performances against the West Indies and Bangladesh that puts them on top of Group A with a staggering Net Run Rate of +3.6.

Enough has already been spoken about the strength of their batting and the number of elite six-hitters in their lineup. The more impressive aspect of Eoin Morgan’s side in the first two games has been the bowling and their strategies. They have nailed all their bowling and field plans to a tee, and the performances of Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali with the new ball and Tymal Mills at the death have been mightily impressive. 

4. You can never underestimate Pakistan


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There wasn’t much chatter about Pakistan as contenders before the tournament, but Babar Azam’s side have put the world on notice with their clinical performances in the first two games against India and New Zealand.

While they have benefitted from winning both tosses (like England), Pakistan are extremely familiar with these conditions in the UAE and are now unbeaten in their previous 18 T20I’s in the country dating back to 2016. They have a varied bowling attack with a mixture of high pace and swing, along with spinners who can bowl in all phases of the game. Additionally, Babar and Rizwan are two of the most prolific batters in 2021, and it would be no surprise to see this team go all the way and lift the trophy.

5. India need to bat better to compensate for their bowling


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The most worrying sign for India in their 10-wicket defeat to Pakistan is that on a flat wicket, Virat Kohli only has two above average bowlers who can consistently make breakthroughs – Bumrah and Chakravarthy. Jadeja is a solid but not spectacular fifth bowling option, and neither Shami and Bhuvi offer much pace, swing or reliability at the death, and their recent IPL and T20I records are middling to say the least.

Hence to make up for their bowling inadequacies, India will need to bat much better on most nights and muscle their way to victories. The Men in Blue have one of the strongest batting line-ups in the tournament, and only if they can match their talent with the right intent and maximise their batting resources do they stand a chance of winning their first T20 World Cup since 2007.


[Image Credit: ANI]