The Super 12 round of cricket’s T20 World Cup starts in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday with holders West Indies taking on 2016 runners-up England in the evening match after Australia and South Africa, both chasing their first T20 World title, get the stage under way in the afternoon.
Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Scotland and surprise package Namibia have joined the world’s top eight teams in the second round, with the 12 teams divided into two groups.
Australia will look to David Warner to get them off to a flying start. A proven match-winner, Warner has endured a miserable time in the format recently. He was dropped by his Sunrisers Hyderabad team at the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) championship, also played in the UAE.
Warner has not played an international T20 this year while, in 2020, he made just 186 runs.
“I’m backing Dave’s [Warner] ability. I’m backing his judgement,” said Australia skipper Aaron Finch. “I think, if you look at his World Cup history, he’s just bloody good. Would he have liked more runs? Absolutely. Everyone would like more runs all the time.
“He’s one of the greatest players that Australia has ever produced, and I’ve got no doubts that come Game 1 he’ll be up and firing and ready to go.”
Warner has scored more runs in T20s against South Africa than any other country with 457 from 14 matches. His average is a commendable 35.35.
South Africa are without AB de Villiers, who confirmed his retirement from international cricket earlier in the year, and former captain Faf du Plessis, who was available but not selected.
However, the team is on a streak of seven successive T20 international wins, encompassing series victories against West Indies, Ireland and Sri Lanka – all achieved away from home.
West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard, meanwhile, has revealed that his team has been watching footage of the dramatic 2016 T20 World Cup success.
“As a team, we actually saw it last night and it brought goosebumps back to us,” said Pollard of the famous win over England five years ago.
England were on the brink of victory in Kolkata only for Carlos Brathwaite to hit four sixes in a row off Ben Stokes in the last over to give West Indies their second T20 World title.
“For us to be in that situation and get over the line, it shows the never-say-die attitude. As a team, we look forward to trying to replicate winning the entire tournament. Those sorts of moments stick with us.”
England captain Eoin Morgan said there will be no scars from that loss as his team try to add the T20 global crown to the 50-over World Cup they won under his leadership two years ago.
“I think if there were scars we would have lost a lot of players who wouldn’t have progressed like they have done over the last four or five years,” insisted Morgan.
The top two teams from each group will progress to the semi-finals that take place on November 10 and 11.
The final is in Dubai on November 14.