10 Bold Predictions for the 2016 ICC World T20

Rob Lancaster@RobLancs79Featured ColumnistMarch 7, 2016

10 Bold Predictions for the 2016 ICC World T20

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    Sri Lanka skipper Lasith Malinga poses with the trophy after his team's triumph in 2014.
    Sri Lanka skipper Lasith Malinga poses with the trophy after his team's triumph in 2014.Scott Barbour/Getty Images

    It has been all of two years since the last ICC World Twenty20 took place in Bangladesh.

    The sixth edition of the competition returns to the Indian subcontinent in 2016, only this time India are the hosts.

    The top eight nations in the ICC rankings are certain of competing in the Super 10 stage, with the final two teams to be revealed through a round-robin qualifying competition.

    Full Members Bangladesh and Zimbabwe will be expected to clear the first hurdle, as they compete alongside Afghanistan, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Oman and Scotland in the first round.

    Ahead of the event getting underway on Tuesday, Bleacher Report has dared to make 10 bold predictions for the World T20.

1. Zimbabwe Will Fail to Qualify from Group B

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    Zimbabwe head into the tournament on a two-match winning run in the format.
    Zimbabwe head into the tournament on a two-match winning run in the format.A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

    Predicting Zimbabwe not to qualify for the Super 10 stage is perhaps not that bold, really.

    The African nation failed to make it through the first qualifying round in 2014, finishing below the Netherlands in Group B on net run rate.

    They are in Group B again in 2016, along with Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Scotland. As an ICC Full Member, Zimbabwe should be the side to come out on top of that foursome.

    However, they have never beaten Afghanistan in four attempts in the shortest format, per ESPN Cricinfo. That miserable run includes two losses to the Associate Nation on home soil in 2015.

2. A Team Will Chase Down a Target of over 200

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    Australia reached a victory target of 205 against South Africa in Johannesburg.
    Australia reached a victory target of 205 against South Africa in Johannesburg.Gallo Images/Getty Images

    Per Howstat, targets of 200 or more have been successfully chased down seven times in the format.

    The most recent occasion came on March 6, as visitors Australia overhauled South Africa's total of 204 for seven off the very last ball of the contest at New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.

    However, scores of over 200 have been chased down on Indian soil three times previously.

    A fourth occurrence seems a certainty in the World T20, particularly when you take into consideration the quality of the batsmen on display.

3. Sri Lanka Will Win Only 1 Game

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    Sri Lanka's form in Twenty20 cricket is concerning ahead of a major tournament.
    Sri Lanka's form in Twenty20 cricket is concerning ahead of a major tournament.Scott Barbour/Getty Images

    Sri Lanka are the reigning champions, but much has changed in the two years since they lifted the trophy in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

    Stalwarts Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara are now enjoying international retirement, leaving two huge voids in a batting order that has looked flimsy of late.

    Indeed, Sri Lanka have won just one of their six T20 fixtures since the last ICC tournament, a miserable run of form that has included home defeats to Pakistan and the West Indies.

    Runs proved particularly hard to come by in the Asia Cup, so don't expect them to beat anyone else in Group 1 besides the team that qualifies from the first round-robin stage.

    As an extra little prediction thrown in for free, the tournament will also see the end of Lasith Malinga's international career.

    The paceman has stepped down as his country's T20 captain on the eve of the tournament due to injury concerns, per the Economic Times.

4. Yuvraj Singh Will Roll Back the Years

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    Yuvraj Singh has struggled to recapture his past form following his international recall.
    Yuvraj Singh has struggled to recapture his past form following his international recall.MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/Getty Images

    Yuvraj Singh has so far struggled to make an impact on his return to action for India.

    The left-handed batsman was recalled at the start of 2016 having not played for his country since the 2014 World T20 final, when he made 11 from 21 balls in the defeat to Sri Lanka.

    Since his comeback, Yuvraj has been more effective with his left-arm spin. However, in home conditions, the 34-year-old will once again remind the Indian fans of his talents.

    He has a healthy T20 average of 30.91 at the highest level and has fond memories of the tournament— it was in the inaugural event that he hit England bowler Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over.

5. Australia Will Pay for Their Batting Riches

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    David Warner (right) needs to get back to the top of Australia's batting order.
    David Warner (right) needs to get back to the top of Australia's batting order.Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    The ICC World Twenty20 is the one major tournament that has so far eluded Australia.

    They head to India with a squad capable of going all the way, even if they remain unsure over who exactly plays in their best XI.

    The batting order is an area that still needs to be worked out.

    Aaron Finch and David Warner appeared to be the opening partnership of choice, only for Usman Khawaja to enjoy a run-filled Big Bash tournament (he scored 345 runs in four innings in the domestic competition).

    Shane Watson is another option for the top of the order, while the possibility of sliding an opener to three would push captain Steve Smith down one slot.

    Australia's management team needs to work out what is going on. If all else fails, it could be time to pick the order out of a hat.

6. James Vince Will Work His Way into England's XI

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    James Vince was man of the series for England against Pakistan in 2015.
    James Vince was man of the series for England against Pakistan in 2015.Neville Hopwood/Getty Images

    England's bright new dawn in limited-overs cricket has paired Alex Hales and Jason Roy at the top of the batting order.

    However, Roy's Twenty20 form is a concern heading into such a major event. The Surrey right-hander has a career average of 13 in the format with a top score of 29.

    Vince, in contrast, showed he can handle the step up from county cricket with 125 runs in three knocks against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in 2015.

    His performances saw him named man of the series, although Vince told ESPN Cricinfo: "It's only a start. I've had three matches, but they gave me some confidence going into this series. It is a very strong side and there are some exceptional players, so it is going to be tough to get in."

    If Roy does not hit the ground running in India, England will not hesitate to give Vince another opportunity.

7. Hashim Amla Will Be Left Carrying the Drinks

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    Hashim Amla has made two half-centuries in his T20 career for South Africa.
    Hashim Amla has made two half-centuries in his T20 career for South Africa.AFP/Getty Images

    For South Africa, three into two just won't go at the top of their batting order.

    T20 captain Faf du Plessis has already confirmed AB de Villiers—promoted to open at the start of the home series with England in 2016—will continue in his new role, per Antoinette Muller of the Daily Maverick.

    That means Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock are left fighting it out for the opportunity to bat alongside De Villiers.

    While Amla has a mighty fine international record in Test (he averages 51.45) and one-day (he averages 52.13) cricket, his figures in the shortest format have been relatively modest.

    The right-hander has hit two half-centuries in 32 T20 knocks for the Proteas but will find himself the odd man out in India.

8. Adam Zampa Will Emerge as a T20 Star

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    Adam Zampa offers Australia's bowling attack some much-needed variety.
    Adam Zampa offers Australia's bowling attack some much-needed variety.ANESH DEBIKY/Getty Images

    Australia possess plenty of seam-bowling options in their squad for the tournament, but leg-spinner Adam Zampa will be the key to their hopes of glory.

    The 23-year-old—who made his T20 debut for his country against South Africa on March 4—has a good record in the format at domestic level.

    Zampa picked up 12 wickets at an average of 22.50 for losing finalists Melbourne Stars in the last Big Bash League season in Australia.

    Able to bowl with good control, he will give Australia's attack some much-needed variety on pitches that will offer help to the slow bowlers.

9. A Seamer, Not a Spinner, Will Be Leading Wicket-Taker

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    Wahab Riaz is one of a plethora of seamers Pakistan can call upon in India.
    Wahab Riaz is one of a plethora of seamers Pakistan can call upon in India.MICHAEL BRADLEY/Getty Images

    While Indian pitches traditionally see spinners take centre stage, don't expect a slow bowler to top the wicket-taking charts.

    Captains will still turn to pace at the front and back end of an innings, giving seamers the best chance to pick up wickets when opposing batsmen are going for broke.

    If the prediction of a paceman picking up the most wickets isn't bold enough for you, then let's say it will be a left-armer who finishes on top of the pile.

    England have a pair of lefties in Reece Topley and David Willey, while Pakistan have a plethora of options who could all shine, including Wahab Riaz and the returning Mohammad Amir.

    Veteran Ashish Nehra played an important role for India in their Asia Cup success, plus don't discount all-rounder James Faulkner of Australia as a long shot to be leading wicket-taker.

10. India Will Go Unbeaten Throughout the Tournament

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    India warmed up for the ICC World Twenty20 with victory in the Asia Cup.
    India warmed up for the ICC World Twenty20 with victory in the Asia Cup.MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/Getty Images

    India's Twenty20 record in 2016 is as follows: played 11, won 10, lost 1.

    Their solitary defeat in the calendar year came on home soil against Sri Lanka, as they were bundled out for 101 on a seamer-friendly surface in Pune.

    However, they have won seven on the spin since that setback.

    Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side were impressive in winning the Asia Cup in Bangladesh, with the event providing them with a perfect chance to hone their skills ahead of a major tournament.

    The last time they had home advantage in an ICC event, India won the Cricket World Cup in 2011.

    Expect them to repeat the trick by going unbeaten throughout the World Twenty20, in the process becoming the first nation to win the event twice.