With the World Twenty20 now under way in India, there are a number of sides vying to lift the trophy of this young tournament for the first time. Although Australia have dominated the cricket world in nearly every respect over the years, they have thus far failed to make their mark on this modern, fast-paced version of the game. This could be the year in which that is about to change.
There is plenty of belief within the Australian squad, with the ambitious captain, Steve Smith, stating that they are here to try and claim the elusive title once and for all. The Baggy Greens are coming into the tournament on the back of a T20 series win over South Africa, and this should give them a confidence boost and allow them to take some momentum into the tournament. At the time of writing, Smith and his teammates are 9/2 with 32red Australia and Unibet to win the tournament, while the hosts, India, are priced at around 3/1.
For a nation with such a rich cricketing history, and a sense that cricket runs through the blood of the country’s inhabitants, it seems strange that they haven’t conquered the game in this format. The players and the fans are now starting to believe that this is long overdue, which could spur the team on to try harder and claim the title this time out.
Many found the squad selection for this World Cup to be a rather mysterious one. Some big names were left out and lesser known players were included. The selectors have argued that it is too hard to pin down Australia’s best T20 squad, and that is the reason behind the controversial selections. Although there has been debate over whether the players selected are the best available, there is certainly enough quality there to get the job done.
Peter Nevill will take over behind the stumps, and this decision to bring in the nation’s best wicketkeeper for this tournament has been hailed as a smart move. To have a specialist keeper in the squad also emphasises the selectors’ faith in the strength of the batting line-up.
They have some of the world’s best hitters in the team, with David Warner at 14/1 with 32red and 10bet to be the tournament’s leading batsmen. Smith, Usman Khawaja, Shane Watson, and Aaron Finch, make a considerably strong top order on paper.
Josh Hazlewood will lead the bowling attack but it could come down to Australia’s young spinners, Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar, to make the difference in favourable conditions for turn.
The Baggy Greens will have been elated upon hearing the news that the hosts of the tournament and favourites to win the title were beaten by New Zealand in the opening match. The Kiwis pulled off a shock 47-run victory over India and now the hosts face a challenge to top their group and put this early defeat behind them.
Another of Australia’s main rivals are South Africa, who are 4/1 to win the tournament with Unibet, 32red and Betway. If Australia progress from the group stage they may well encounter these able foes on the route to the final. Although Russell Domingo’s players suffered a demolition at the hands of England in the recent Test series at the turn of the year, they bounced back and pulled off convincing victories in the following One Day and T20 series. They have one of the world’s most dangerous batsmen in their ranks with AB de Villiers, who, at 9/1 to be the top tournament batsman, is a force to be reckoned with on his day. Many are anticipating him to enjoy a devastating return to form on the world stage.
Australia will also have to contend with their closest rivals, New Zealand, in the group stage. With only two teams progressing from each group, it could be a fierce battle between the two teams to claim one of the top places in the “Group of Death”.
Australia certainly have the ability within their ranks to produce a victory in this tournament, and at a time when their main rivals seem to be faltering they could well take advantage. But first they must claw their way out of this tough looking group.