The International Cricket Council (ICC) recently announced that the upcoming T20 World Cup will be held in the UAE and Oman because of India’s inability to host it due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation in the country.
The decision will likely play a big role in the chances of each participating team winning the tournament. And like every major decision in the world, this one too is going to benefit some and disappoint others.
So, let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers from the ICC’s decision to host the T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman.
Undoubtedly, the decision to move the 2021 T20 World Cup to the Gulf has given India’s chances a trashing. Apart from India being a formidable team, hosting the World Cup would have meant they would also have the advantage of playing in spin-friendly conditions. Turning pitches is not just India’s strength but also the biggest weakness of several T20 World Cup participants.
Although the UAE and Oman also offer good conditions for spin bowling, it’s not as clear an advantage as playing in India. As the Pakistan Super League (PSL) recently showed us, fast bowlers can also be successful in the UAE. The top three wicket-takers of the recently concluded PSL were all pacers, a stat which should be music to the ears for teams who rely on pace-heavy bowling attacks.
However, there is good news for Team India too. With the remainder of IPL 2021 set to take place in the UAE, it should provide the Indian players a good feel of the conditions before the 2021 T20 World Cup.
With all that being said, India are still one of the favorites to win the tournament. But they probably have to work harder now to become the champions of the world in the shortest format.
Winners: Neutral fans
While Indian fans will rue this news, neutral fans have a lot to look forward to in the tournament. One of the best things about the T20 World Cup taking place in the UAE and Oman is that they are neutral venues, which always make for great matches. With no team possessing a clear home advantage, every game is going to be as unpredictable as ever.
Smaller teams will have a better chance of beating the so-called heavyweights. Remember Ireland pulling off one of the greatest upsets by beating England in the 2011 World Cup in India or Bangladesh defeating India in the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies? While these may not be T20 examples, they do show how a neutral venue can help level the playing field.
With the tournament looking unpredictable, neutral fans are likely to have some jaw-dropping moments to remember.
Just as India are the biggest losers on this list, their eternal rivals Pakistan will benefit the most from the 2021 T20 World Cup shifting to the UAE and Oman. Pakistan have perhaps played the most in the UAE, with it serving as a home ground for the national team in recent years.
The decision to hold the T20 World Cup in the Gulf has given Pakistan’s chances of winning it a massive boost. Their players are well aware of the playing conditions, with the PSL recently taking place in the UAE.
If Pakistan go all the way, they will only be the second team after West Indies to win the T20 World Cup twice.
This is more from a financial standpoint. Moving the 2021 T20 World Cup to the UAE and Oman is surely a financial blow for the ICC. Hosting the tournament in India would have meant a lot of revenue, considering the massive fan base the sport has in the country.
But money is no excuse to jeopardize the health of everyone associated with the tournament. Hence, ICC’s decision to shift the T20 World Cup venue must be lauded.
As mentioned above, a neutral venue could mean that the tournament could go down as one of the best in terms of competition, which would be a big win for the sport. It’s also better to have a tournament than no tournament. Even though ICC is a loser on this list, there are some positives to look forward to.
Australia have several strengths, but their ability to play spin is not one of them. Even though the UAE and Oman offer spin-friendly conditions, the Australian team would definitely prefer playing in the Gulf rather than in India. It may be a tad easier, but Australia still have to drastically improve their batting approach towards spin if they want to win their maiden T20 World Cup.
The tournament, which was originally set to take place in India, was undoubtedly giving the Australian team management some selection headaches. A side that have always relied on their pacers to do the job were trying to accommodate a second spinner just for the T20 World Cup.
A shift to the UAE and Oman might not mean that they won’t need a second spinner, but the option to stick to their pace-heavy bowling attack should certainly be back on the table. Especially considering the fact that Josh Hazlewood, Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson will all be playing in the remainder of IPL 2021, which will be held in the UAE. Several other Australian players will also be part of the second leg of IPL which is certain to benefit the national team in the upcoming World Cup.
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As it stands, the 2021 T20 World Cup shifting to UAE and Oman is certainly an advantage for Australia, but will they be able to capitalize on it? Only time will tell.