Asian Champions India to enter World T20 as top ranked side

March 6, 2016 Off By Web Desk

Dubai: India has strengthened its reputation as a strong title contender for the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016 after it was confirmed on Sunday that it will enter the home tournament as the number-one ranked side in the world.

The sixth edition of the tournament, to be held in India for the first time, will start on Tuesday when 13th-ranked Zimbabwe takes on 14th-ranked Hong Kong in Nagpur, which will be followed by the match between ninth-ranked Afghanistan and 11th-ranked Scotland. The second round will kick off on March 15, also in Nagpur, when India goes head to head with New Zealand. The final will be played at Eden Gardens on April 3.

The 10-team women’s competition will also be played alongside the men’s second round with the semi-finals and final to take place before the men’s knock-out matches at the same venues.

India’s number-one ranking was sealed late Sunday evening after Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side won the Asia Cup in Mirpur, hours after Australia had chased down South Africa’s 204 to level the three-match series at one-all. Irrespective of which side now wins the series in Cape Town on Wednesday, it will not be enough to dislodge India from the top pedestal.

India, which won the inaugural event in South Africa and finished runner-up in Bangladesh two years ago, is on 127 points, nine points clear of 2012 winner West Indies and South Africa, who are on equal points (118). New Zealand is fourth on 116, followed by 2010 winner England in fifth, 2010 losing finalist Australia in sixth, 2009 champion Pakistan in seventh and defending champion Sri Lanka in eighth.

These eight sides qualified directly for the second round after finishing inside the top eight of the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Rankings as on April 30 2015. Tenth-ranked Bangladesh and Zimbabwe have been joined in the first round by Afghanistan, Hong Kong, 15th-ranked Ireland, 12th-ranked Netherlands, 11th-ranked Scotland and 16th-ranked Oman, who qualified for the tournament proper after claiming the top six positions in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015 in Ireland and Scotland.

Bangladesh, Ireland, Netherlands and debutant Oman are in Group A, while Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Scotland and Zimbabwe are in Group B. If rankings have anything to do with qualification, then Bangladesh and Afghanistan should progress from Group A and B respectively. But it would not be wise to under-estimate the strength, talent, experience and ability of Ireland and Netherlands as well as Zimbabwe and Scotland. This means plenty of action and tight finishes are in store in the first-round matches.

Since the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014, India has played 16 matches and has won 11, including 10 out of 11 T20Is this year. And this is reflected in the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Player Rankings which boasts a number of its players enjoying high rankings.

In the batting table, Virat Kohli is second and is followed by Rohit Sharma (11th), Suresh Raina (16th), Yuvraj Singh (22nd), Dhoni (43rd) and Shikhar Dhawan (48th). In the absence of Sunil Narine, second-ranked Ravichandran Ashwin will start as the highest-ranked bowler while Ravindra Jadeja is 11th, Jasprit Bumrah is 27thand Yuvraj is 43rd. Yuvraj is also India’s highest-ranked all-rounder in sixth position.

West Indies’ charge will once again be led by Chris Gayle, who is occupying the seventh position. The other top-ranked West Indies batsmen are Marlon Samuels (19th), Dwayne Bravo (32nd) and Dwayne Smith (50th), while 49th-ranked Bravo is its highest-ranked bowler. Captain Darren Sammy is 74th in the batting table, 62nd in the bowlers’ category and 25th in the all-rounders’ list.

South Africa, which is searching for its first ICC major since winning the ICC Champions Trophy 1998 (then called ICC Knock-Out), has all the ammunition it needs to go the full distance. Since the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014, it has won 10 out of 16 matches. It boasts as many as six batsmen inside the top 50, led by captain Faf du Plessis in third, JP Duminy in 15th, Hashim Amla in 21st, Quinton de Kock in 24th, David Miller in 28th and AB de Villiers in 34th. Its bowlers also feature prominently in the list with Imran Tahir in third, David Wiese in eighth, Kyle Abbott in 12th, Kagiso Rabada in 30th and Dale Steyn in 45th.

Australia will be aiming to complete a Career Grand Slam by winning the missing ICC World Twenty20 India 2016. And though it has lost more than 50 per cent of matches it has played since the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 (played 10, won four, lost six to date), it remains a force to be reckoned with in this format. Australia’s Aaron Finch will start as the number-one ranked batsman, while its other top batsmen are David Warner (ninth), Shane Watson (13th) and Glenn Maxwell (31st). Its highest-ranked bowlers are Watson and Maxwell, who share 35th spot, while James Faulkner is 37th. Watson will start the tournament as world’s best all-rounder with Maxwell in seventh position.

Sides featuring in the first-round matches from March 8-13 in Dharamsala and Nagpur include a number of players who feature in the top 50.

Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza is the highest-ranked batsman in eighth position. He is followed by Afghanistan’s Mohammad Shahzad (12th), Sabbir Rahman of Bangladesh (20th), Zimbabwe’s Malcolm Waller (23rd), Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh (25th), the Netherlands duo of Stephan Myburgh and Wesley Barresi in 27th and 36th respectively, Kyle Coetzer of Scotland (37th), Paul Stirling of Ireland (38th), Hong Kong’s Babar Hayat (39th), Ireland captain William Porterfield (40th), Richard Berrington of Scotland (42nd), the Netherlands captain Peter Borren (45th) and Zimbabwe’s Elton Chigumbura (47th).

In the absence of Zimbabwe’s fifth-ranked Graeme Creamer, Afghanistan’s seventh-ranked Dawlat Zadran is the highest-ranked bowler from the eight sides. He is followed by the Bangladesh pair of Shakib (ninth) and Al-Amin Hossain (15th), Mudassar Bukhari of Netherlands (17th), George Dockrell of Ireland (20th), Mohammad Nabi of Afghanistan (21st), 28th-ranked Mustafizur Rahman of Bangladesh, Timm van der Gugten of the Netherlands (29th), Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien (32nd), Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza (33rd), Hong Kong’s Nadeem Ahmad (39th), Hamza Hotak of Afghanistan (41st) and Zimbabwe’s Sean Williams (46th).

Bangladesh’s Shakib trails number-one ranked Watson by just one point in the all-rounders’ category, while Afghanistan’s Nabi is just outside the top 10 in 11th position.

Although India seems to be the in-form side and the team to beat in the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016, the fact of the matter is that neither has any side won the ICC World Twenty20 twice nor has any home side lifted the silverware in front of its home crowd. Whether this will change come April 3, only time will tell!

While the team rankings will be updated after each match, the player rankings will not be updated after the conclusion of second-round matches on March 28.