The draw for the ICC T20 World Cup was announced on Friday, July 16. Defending champions West Indies are in Group 1 of the Super 12 round along with Australia, South Africa and England. Meanwhile, inaugural champions India are in Group 2 with Pakistan, New Zealand and Afghanistan.
Two more teams will join both groups in the Super 12 stage from the qualifying round. Sri Lanka, Ireland, the Netherlands, Namibia, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Oman and Scotland are the eight teams in the race for the four remaining spots in the Super 12.
Many fans consider India and England the favorites to win the global event in the UAE and Oman. Some believe the West Indies will become the first-ever three-time champions in the tournament's history. The ICC T20 World Cup 2021 is still three months away, but here are three bold predictions for the competition.
1. Afghanistan team to be a top contender for a place in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 semifinals
Afghanistan will be the dark horses in Group 2 of the Super 12 stage. The Rashid Khan-led outfit finds itself in a group with India, Pakistan and New Zealand. The other two teams that will join the group later should not trouble Afghanistan much.
However, they will have to perform well against India, Pakistan and New Zealand to strengthen their chances of qualifying for the semifinals. Afghanistan has got what it takes to succeed in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021. Most importantly, the matches will happen in the UAE, a country where Afghanistan has played a lot of cricket.
Fans should note Afghanistan was the only team to beat the West Indies in the previous edition of the ICC T20 World Cup. Hence, they should expect a few surprises in Group 2.
2. Australia to struggle to qualify for the semifinals of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021
Australia has won five 50-over World Cup events, but the Aussies are yet to capture the ICC T20 World Cup. They qualified for the summit clash of the 2010 T20 World Cup. However, arch-rivals England did not allow them to win the trophy.
In the previous edition of the tournament, Australia failed to qualify for the semifinals. They were in a group with India, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This year, the organizers have grouped the Aussies with defending champions West Indies, 2016 runners-up England and the dangerous South African side.
Looking at Australia's recent shortcomings in the T20I arena, it should not be a surprise if they miss out on a place in the semifinals yet again. The Australian lineup does not look strong enough to give its Group 1 rivals a tough time.
3. Virat Kohli to end his trophy drought with the ICC T20 World Cup triumph
As mentioned ahead, India, England and the West Indies are the top three contenders for the ICC T20 World Cup title. India are most likely to face England or the Caribbean side in the knockout phase of the competition.
Since Indian cricketers have played a lot of cricket in the UAE over the last two years, the Men in Blue will have the upper hand. The likes of KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shreyas Iyer and Virat Kohli performed brilliantly in the IPL 2020 in the UAE.
Fans can expect Virat Kohli and his team to end a 14-year wait for the ICC T20 World Cup trophy by winning the championship in the Middle East.