It’s a bit of a slogfest in truth, but there’s no denying the fun and excitement that the T20 Cricket World Cup delivers. Happily, there’s plenty of tasty morsels for punters to peck at too.
The tournament is already under way in a fashion, with the associate nations currently battling it out for a place in the Super Six stage as we speak. The big guns enter the fray on Tuesday when the competition proper starts.
This year’s renewal is being held in India, and while conditions tend to be less of a factor in the shorter format of the game they still require investigation. Expect slow, dry pitches and searing heat – which will surely play into the hosts’ hands.
Interestingly though, no host nation has ever won the tournament in its five reprisals and there are no multiple winners thus far. India won the first ever T20 World Cup in South Africa, with subsequent winners including Pakistan (2009), England (2010), West Indies (2012) and Sri Lanka (2014).
Outright Winner – India (11/5)
As much as we’d like to oppose India for greater betting value, unfortunately we simply cannot. They are the best T20 team in the world (as confirmed by the ICC rankings), and on home soil – where many of their players feature in the IPL each and every year – they will be so tough to beat.
They’ve got the best all-round team as well, including a destructive top six, an inspirational captain in MS Dhoni, spin options and a decent seam bowling attack. Essentially, they have all the tools to get the job done. And while Sri Lanka boast the highest win percentage in T20 World Cup history (69.35%), India are next with 64.81%.
It’s easier to oppose their biggest rivals in truth. Of those below them in the rankings, the West Indies are a law unto themselves on and off the pitch, South Africa are known as ‘chokers’ on the big stage, and Sri Lanka’s captain Lasith Malinga has just stepped down a matter of days before the tournament begins. They were poor at the Asian Cup, and the retirement of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene has hit them hard. Factor in that India beat Australia 3-0 in a T20 series played on Indian soil in January of this year, and they become impossible to oppose.
For England fans, unfortunately this is a period of transition for the T20 team. There were encouraging signs in the UAE a few months ago, but a series defeat to South Africa recently was tough to take.
Top Tournament Batsman
Virat Kohli (9/1)
It’s particularly easy to promote the claims of Kohli in this market. He’s playing on home soil where he’s so comfortable – he was the fifth highest run scorer in IPL 2015, and the top batsman in the series against Australia already mentioned, and he hit 77 for his side in the 2014 final to prove he’s got the bottle for the big occasion.
Add in to the mix that he’s ranked second in the world by the ICC, and it’s easy to see why Kohli is a sensible investment.
Faf du Plessis (33/1)
This really is an eye-popping price for a batsman ranked third in world T20 cricket by the ICC. With an average of 54.40 in six T20 matches in 2015, there are fewer better exponents than him!
As the captain of a South Africa side who should go deep in the competition, and having scored 79 and 40 in his side’s recent T20 internationals with Australia, du Plessis is a fantastic investment.
Top Tournament Bowler
Ravi Ashwin (10/1)
Ranked second by the ICC, playing on home soil where he is so comfortable for his country and in the IPL….yeah, it’s easy to make a case for Ashwin here.
He often takes the new ball for India – unusual for a spinner – so well is he trusted, and with 15 wickets to his name in 10 T20 matches already in 2016, that’s the kind of ratio that is likely to get the job done.
James Faulkner (25/1)
The Aussie is a T20 ‘gun for hire’ so proficient is he in this form of the game, and he looked the business in the recent series with South Africa, where he took four wickets.
Faulkner has learned his craft playing for Lancashire, Melbourne Stars and Rajasthan Royals around the world, and his left-handedness gives him an added advantage.