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Wild Cards at the 2021 T20 World Cup

Bet Central highlights the T20 World Cup’s three underdogs who may just cause upsets to the tournament favourites and win the title.

Wild Cards T20 World Cup

Punters, this one is for you, if you want to win big, big odds, these are the three teams that can give you the results you want.

Bet Central highlights the T20 World Cup’s three “underdogs” who may just cause upsets to the tournament “favourites” and win the title.

Given that the T20 format has evolved so much and has seen millions of dollars injected into the format over the past 18 years, this year’s edition is expected to be the most entertaining.

West Indies, India, England and Australia are definite contenders for the title because of the calibre of players they have in their teams. The quality of that calibre is directly affected by the country’s franchised T20 competitions.

West Indies has the CPL, India has the IPL, England has Vitality Blast, while Australia has The Big Bash, which strengthens the country’s talent pool immensely.

Unfortunately, this then increases the margin between these four nations and the rest of the teams at this year’s World Cup. But, it’s not entirely doom & gloom for every other nation, there are teams at this World Cup who against the odds, can upset the big four or any other team.

Ongama Gcwabe looks at this year’s wild cards:

Pakistan

Yes, Pakistan has the PSL which has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, but the impact of the PSL on the Pakistan national team isn’t comparable with that of the top T20 leagues. It’s still early days for the PSL.

But this is a World Cup, and Pakistan has the ability to rock up at World Cups and produce desired results regardless of their form leading up to the World Cup. That is a trait of the Pakistan team known to all cricket fanatics around the
world.

Captained by top-order batter Babar Azam, who since debuting in the T20I format has made more runs than any other batter in the format, Pakistan is in good hands.

The make-up of the squad is well rounded. I feel for the first time, Pakistan has covered all the bases with this squad. Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik & Sarfaraz Ahmed will provide invaluable experience which then brings about calm in the dressing room and on the field of play.

Youngsters which include vice-captain Shadab Khan and Shaheen Shah Afridi are in red-hot form and have the ability to decimate any batting lineup in the world on their day.

One last interesting prospect in this squad is wicket-keeper batter Mohammad Rizwan. In this year’s T20Is, Rizwan has amassed 752 runs in 14 innings at an average of 94. The 752 runs include seven half-centuries and an unbeaten century against South Africa. This achievement makes Rizwan the player with most T20I runs in a calendar year.

If you disagree, let me take you down memory lane to the 2017 Champions Trophy in which no one backed Pakistan to make it to the knockouts, instead, the Pakistani team went on to beat favourites India in the final.

Pakistan Squad

Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shoaib Malik.

Travelling Reserves: Khushdil Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir.

New Zealand

The Black Caps have had a lot of success in the past decade in most ICC events which include the fifty over World Cup, Test Championship & T20 World Cup.

They have reached both finals of the fifty over format in 2015 and 2019, and went down to Australia & England, respectively, by a very small margin.

What gets this team in my top three Wild Cards is that they have a knack for big games. They just look unbeatable in big pressure games. Perhaps a trait skipper Kane Williamson has instilled into the side or it’s the prevailing personality within this team.

Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee will be absolutely crucial for the Black Caps in the UAE as we have seen that seamers can be handy in those conditions. All four fast bowlers were involved in this year’s UAE leg of the IPL which concluded two days before the first game of the World Cup was played.

New Zealand Squad

Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.

Travelling Reserves: Adam Milne

South Africa

For the first time in a T20 World Cup, the Proteas squad has more underdogs instead of the world-renowned cricketers we used to field at world cups. I believe that this is the reason this Proteas side should be respected as a team that can cause upsets in the tournament.

With no reputation to play up to, no additional pressure of expectations, the Proteas can play a free-spirited game that may just get them to the semifinals. That would be a notable achievement given the group the Proteas are in which features West Indies, England & Australia.

I believe Bavuma’s men have found the recipe that works for them. A style that’s only suitable for this squad of players. It might be conservative, but it has worked and paid off in series wins in the Caribbean, Ireland and Sri Lanka.

At the top of the order, Bavuma & Quinton De Kock will be very important for the Proteas in terms of setting a solid foundation in the powerplay.

As one of the most experienced players in the team, David Miller will have to finally step up at this World Cup. If the Proteas are to come close to winning the title, Miller will have to be at the centre of it all.

Boucher and Bavuma have been very smart in identifying their unique approach to T20Is and I believe playing smart cricket will guarantee success at this World Cup.

South Africa Squad

Temba Bavuma (c), Keshav Maharaj, Quinton de Kock (wk), Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, W Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.

Travelling Reserves: George Linde, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lizaad Williams

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