T20 World Cup: India vs Pakistan game hots up Group B

Despite the presence of the mighty arch-rivals, Indians and Pakistan, it would be difficult to look beyond the Kiwis as the favourites from the group.

New Zealand will be keen on crossing the line this time around in the United Arab Emirates, especially after failing to win the ODI World Cup by a whisker.   -  AFP

A young Kane Williamson was brave to rest star pacers Trent Boult and Tim Southee in the rank-turners in India five years ago. Despite the retirement of Brendon McCullum, New Zealand was the best side in the T20 World Cup till it lost the semifinal to England in Delhi.

The Black Caps will be keen on crossing the line this time around in the United Arab Emirates, especially after failing to win the ODI World Cup by a whisker.

New Zealand has picked four spinners to suit the conditions that will not be too different from India. Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner will get a chance to weave magic again, along with Mark Chapman and Todd Astle.

Lockie Ferguson and Kyle Jamieson, who will make their T20 World Cup debuts, could be the key players.

READ: India vs Pakistan T20 World Cup clash will be about leadership: Hayden

The best chance for India

For the first time in the history of a T20 World Cup, a non-playing member of an Indian side has turned more heads. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s return to the dressing room as a mentor will hold Virat Kohli and Co. in good stead in the tournament.

Despite having won several T20I games at home and abroad, an ICC world title has eluded the men in blue since 2007. This time, the script has all the ingredients for a power-packed T20 tournament with explosive hitters such as K. L. Rahul, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav in the squad. There is depth in the spin and pace setup with Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

Pakistan, the underdogs

Pakistan, led by Babar Azam, has been a steady unit for the past few months. It has put up brave fights against top sides such as England and South Africa.

It won the championship in 2009, and the players will be hungry to lay their hands on another title in the venue they called home till a few months ago.

The Rashid-Nabi show

Afghanistan is going through a transition as a nation with the Taliban coming back to power. Last month, the Taliban replaced Hamid Shinwari with Naseed Zadran Khan as Afghanistan Cricket Board’s Chief Executive.

As a cricketing nation, it has improved leaps and bounds since its first appearance in the T20 World Cup in 2010.

With T20 star players like Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, Afghanistan will be looking for sunshine in the moment of gloom.