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T20 Cricket World Cup: Opening week preview

THE T20 World Cup has arrived. England, India and the West Indies will enter the tournament as favourites, while Australia will attempt to make only their second final ever. 

Week 1 brings us plenty of top-notch contests to get the tournament underway, so let’s have a look at the pick of the matches to start the World Cup. 

Australia vs South Africa (Saturday, 9pm) 

Australia have always struggled in the shortest format of the game. Despite their winning ways in the 50-over format, where they have won more World Cups than any other team, they have only made the final once in six attempts in T20 cricket. 

That came way back in 2010. They come into this tournament not quite knowing their best XI either, with David Warner struggling and the team, albeit understrength, on the back of humbling performances away from home against the West Indies and Bangladesh in the lead-up. 

They play a South African team not among the tournament favourites, but who have won their last three T20 series against the West Indies, Ireland and Sri Lanka. They also hammered Afghanistan in their first warm-up game. 

Their bowling attack, led by the dangerous Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj, will need to be on fire though. If it is, it’s difficult to see the out of touch Australian team having enough runs in the bank, even if Pat Cummins and co do bowl the lights out. 

South Africa to make a winning start. 

England vs West Indies (Sunday, 1am) 

This is going to be a contest of two of the biggest hitting line-ups in the tournament. England and the West Indies both possess the ability to run up 200 with their eyes shut if the bowlers get it even marginally wrong. 

On the England side of the coin, the likes of Jason Roy, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow can all go off, although the form of Eoin Morgan is a worry. 

The men from the Caribbean still have Chris Gayle running around, but the likes of Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran, not to mention Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell are among the biggest hitters in the world. 

Runs the West Indies might have, but their bowling attack struggled and that was evident in a warm-up loss to Pakistan. Consistency is another problem for the WIndies, and with an English attack led by the superb David Willey, who averages 22.47 with the ball at under eight runs per over, they should win. 

England in a close, high-scoring thriller. 

India vs Pakistan (Monday, 1am) 

One of cricket’s biggest rivalries! India and Pakistan always find a way to play out thrilling matches. This rivalry is all the more special at major tournaments because it is normally the only place cricket fans get to see it. 

India come in as one of the tournament favourites in conditions which will suit them. Pitches conducive to big run totals and good spin bowling will see Ravichandran Ashwin lead the way, while KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya have all been in rich veins of form with the bat throughout the IPL. 

Pakistan most recently had a highly frustrating series against the West Indies where only one out of four matches reached a result, however, a narrow series loss to England before that proves they will be competitive in the shortest format of the game. 

Like India, they will be built on their spin attack, while dynamic tall pace bowlers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf could make all the difference. To have enough runs in them though, they will need Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman, who scored 50 and 46 respectively against the West Indies, to be excellent. 

They may not be good enough to stop the Indian express however. 

India in a close one. 



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