20 Early Predictions for the 2014 World T20 in Bangladesh
With the ICC World Twenty20 tournament just weeks away here are 20 early predictions, in ascending order of likelihood, for the competition that will almost definitely not come true.
In fact, one of them was going to be Kevin Pietersen to be leading run scorer.
But seriously, this event represents a great opportunity for Bangladesh to make a name for itself on and off the pitch and with most of the world's (apart from KP) finest white-ball players present, it could be a spectacular few weeks.
Read on and let me know what you think in the comments section.
1. There Will Be a Huge Upset
The format means that only two of the "minnows" will make it through to the Super 10 group stage, but they will get to play four games against the big boys.
And given that they will be battle hardened from coming through the qualifying groups and also the brevity of a T20 match, it's highly like we'll see a shock result similar to Ireland's victory over England in the 2011 World Cup.
Based on current form, of the major teams, it would be no surprise to see England again struggle at some point while the West Indies are always capable of committing hari-kari.
2. The Weather Will Play a Part in Deciding the Tournament
Hopefully, this one won't come true but there always seems to be a threat of the sub-tropical South Asian climate coming to the fore.
Bangladesh has three distinct seasons of weather and this tournament, scheduled to run from 16 March until 6 April, overlaps two of them.
The most worrying of which is the hot humid summer which will take the place of the cool, dry winter. So, maybe the players should pack their umbrellas just in case.
3. Cheerleaders Will Be Sighted
The powers that be seem to think T20 cricket and cheerleaders go together like Hayden and Langer.
So it would be no surprise to see every wicket, boundary and even ball greeted by the dancing girls and their pom poms.
4. The Final Will Be a Damp Squib
Whether it's the weight of the occasion or just coincidence, the majority of World T20 finals have been disappointing contests.
The inaugural finale between India and Pakistan was the best with the game going down to the last over but since then we've seen a procession of one-sided contests.
So, fingers crossed for a last-ball decider...or even a Super Over!
5. The IPL Jingle to Be Played at Every Single Opportunity
You know the one, that irritating trumpet call that is inexplicably unleashed every few seconds in the IPL.
And now seems to be a feature of almost every single game of T20 cricket across the globe.
But has it made it to Bangladesh? I guess we'll find out.
6. People Will Moan About the Schedule
Devising a format and a schedule to satisfy everybody is almost impossible with the complicated array of teams currently active in international cricket.
The ICC is rightly committed to encouraging the sport in nations where it isn't as well established but there also has to be some sort of integrity maintained in terms of the overall tournament standard.
For this event, perhaps the main criticism will concern the first week which is solely occupied by the "lesser teams" battling it out among themselves to join the Super 10s.
But at least the action comes thick and fast unlike the epic 2007 ODI World Cup in the Caribbean, which lasted six weeks.
7. Bangladesh and Ireland Will Qualify from the Group Stages
Group A: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Nepal
Group B: Ireland, Netherlands, UAE, Zimbabwe
Let's face it; it would be great for the tournament if host country Bangladesh can qualify from their group.
And having had far more experience of playing at a higher level than the others and boasting players such as Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan they surely should do.
From the other group, Zimbabwe are arguably the favourites but given that Ireland have enjoyed a degree of success over the years, they could give the Africans a run for their money.
8. England Will Go out in the Group Stages
Poor old England. The last thing they need now is to fly to another country and play a high calibre tournament with their team in disarray and confidence in tatters.
In truth, the T20 side is fairly settled and boasts some exciting firepower in the top seven with the likes of Alex Hales, Luke Wright, Eoin Morgan and Joss Buttler.
But that didn't stop them losing 3-0 to Australia recently and sub-continent conditions have rarely proved a happy hunting ground for the men in red.
9. A Team to Be Eliminated Via Run Rate
It's a familiar story in cricket tournaments. One team qualifies for the next stage and another misses out due to run rate, which is more often than not decided by how many you beat the whipping boys by.
This, at times, difficult to fathom system of measurement has led to many harsh eliminations over the years such as India in the Super 8 stage of the 2012 T20 World Cup and the West Indies in the 2013 Champions Trophy.
10. Highest Individual Score Record to Be Broken
Brendon McCullum currently holds the record for the highest individual score in a T20 World Cup courtesy of his blistering 123 off 58 balls against Bangladesh in 2012.
But with the two qualifying smaller teams playing four matches each in this year's trophy, there's going to be plenty of opportunity for the likes of Chris Gayle, Shane Watson or Aaron Finch to go ballistic.
11. Junaid Khan Will Be the Breakout Star with the Ball
Junaid Khan is a cricketer on the up and the Pakistani's confidence will be sky high after playing a leading role in his country's triple-format series against Sri Lanka.
Despite being aged just 24, the left-arm paceman has already taken 56 Test wickets and 73 ODI wickets at an impressive average and economy rate.
Bowling with skill and pace, it will be very interesting to see how he goes against the most aggressive batsmen in the world at the start and end of innings.
12. Corey Anderson Will Be the Breakout Star with the Bat
New Zealand's new star Corey Anderson seems set for a big tournament.
The 23-year-old's meteoric rise to fame can be put down to one moment; when he smashed Shahid Afridi's record for the fastest-ever ODI century.
Coming off just 36 balls, the blistering ton against the West Indies has made the all-rounder one of the IPL's hottest properties and this is the perfect stage to show what he can do.
13. Sri Lanka and New Zealand Will Qualify from Group 1
Group One: England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Qualifier.
With T20 cricket being so unpredictable it is difficult to call the winners and losers but from group one, Sri Lanka and New Zealand have a great chance of making the cut.
This form of cricket is arguably the Sri Lankan's strongest and their phalanx of spinners could prove to be the key with the three other teams likely to field pace-orientated attacks.
And the Black Caps just seem in a good place right now with a great mix of youth, experience and ferocious hitters.
14. India and Pakistan Will Qualify from Group 2
Group Two: Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Qualifier.
While the Super 10s match between Pakistan and India is going to be one of the tournament highlights both sides look good to go on and qualify for the semi-finals.
Their main rivals, Australia, will arrive off the back of a potentially gruelling series against South Africa, which itself is so soon after the epic Ashes and Big Bash League that you feel something has to give at some point.
While the West Indies, despite being the defending champions, are always one wicket away from a dramatic batting collapse.
15. Virat Kohli to Be Top Run-Scorer
It is tempting to go for the red-hot Aaron Finch or the original master blaster Chris Gayle when considering the possible leading run-scorer.
But given that the tournament will be contested in the lesser-known conditions of Bangladesh then Virat Kohli has a decent chance.
The 25-year-old has been in sensational form over the last few months and has all the shots. But perhaps more importantly, India should go deep into the tournament.
16. Saeed Ajmal Will Be the Leading Wicket Taker
Master twirler Saeed Ajmal averages a wicket every 16.2 balls in T20 internationals and has a great chance of topping the tournament's wicket-taker list.
Especially if the Bangladesh tracks take spin, as expected.
The 36-year-old is currently in red hot form as evidenced by the 15 wickets he's bagged in six T20 games for the Titans in South Africa.
17. Chris Gayle to Hit the Most Sixes
It would be no surprise to see Chris Gayle at the top of the sixes chart when the dust settles in Bangladesh just like he did in 2012.
With the IPL just around the corner, this is the time of year that the Jamaican comes out to play and he should be nice and fresh having not played since 21 November.
The only thing going against the burly strokemaker is how long the West Indies last in the tournament.
18. MS Dhoni to Be Named Player of the Tournament
It is hard to tell if MS Dhoni feels any pressure at all as his demeanour and personality rarely change.
But if India go on to win their second World T20 title it's likely that having the ultra-cool wicketkeeper's hand on the rudder will be a major factor.
And let's not forget his batting. Dhoni is capable of playing many different types of innings. Whether digging his side out of trouble or slogging valuable runs off the last few balls, there is no other man you would want at the crease.
19. New Zealand Will Be the Surprise Team of the Tournament
New Zealand are considered long shots for tournament success but, with 15 players being entered into the IPL auction, they have a more than useful side.
With the bat they have dangerous weapons like Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, who is in the form of his life and the up and coming Corey Anderson.
While, with the ball, Mitchell McClenaghan and Tim Southee are a handful for anyone. If they perform to their capabilities and get a bit of luck, who is to say the Kiwis can't go all the way?
20. India Will Win the Tournament
The India team live and breathe T20 cricket and have all bases covered in their talented squad, which includes a plethora of match winners.
Led by MS Dhoni, the finest captain in world cricket today who knows what it takes to win big tournaments including the World T20 in 2007.
Finally, throw in their familiarity with the conditions and the boys in blue are going to take some stopping.
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