Cricket Expert & Columnist
T20 World Cup: Nasser Hussain and Rob Key make their predictions as big guns enter the tournament
Who will win the T20 World Cup? Who are the dark horses? And can England add the T20 title to their 50-over crown? Ahead of the Super 12 stage and the big names entering the tournament, Sky Sports pundits Nasser Hussain and Rob Key pick out some of the teams and players to watch...
Last Updated: 22/10/21 6:27pm
With the big guns set to join the T20 World Cup with the beginning of the Super 12 stage on Saturday, Nasser Hussain and Rob Key make their tournament predictions...
Key: I think the clear favourites, and by some distance, are India. I think England are just behind them. India, in those conditions, you just think of the players they've left out and they've got a chance of winning it, let alone the ones they've got.
The class with the bat, I think as long as India are brave and don't just stick with seniority, and they have a blend of the legends, the great senior players they've got mixed in with some of the young stars like Ishan Kishan, it's hard to look past them. My only concern for India - and this sounds ridiculous - is if they just go in with KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. I quite fancy an Ishan Kishan in there somewhere.
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Hussain: India have to be favourites. I've said for a while that it is between them and England, and India, in particular, have pretty much every base covered. A very strong batting line-up, some quality seamers, quality spinners and they know the conditions. The only issue for them is that they have stumbled in knockout games of late. But, for me, India are favourites.
Hussain: I don't know if you can describe them as dark horses but Pakistan. They came to England with a white-ball side and lost to England's third XI really. They are going under the radar a little bit and obviously they have a massive game on Sunday against India, but, in ICC events, as we saw in England in the Champions Trophy, they are a really good tournament side.
They've probably got a bit of a point to prove, too, with what has happened recently with people not touring there - New Zealand and England - and I think they've got a lot of fight, passion and character. Pakistan would be a nice story.
Key: If I wanted value then I'd look at Pakistan. There are the top three - I'd add West Indies to England and India - but Pakistan, if the stars align and they can find form then they can beat anyone because they've got world-class bowling, arguably one of the best batsmen in the world in Babar Azam and they know these conditions better than anyone. A lot of them will have played in the PSL when it was in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. There is so much going for Pakistan.
How will England do?
Hussain: I'd be surprised if England don't make the final. They're a high-quality side. Yes, they're missing three very valuable players in Ben Stokes, Sam Curran and Jofra Archer, in particular. He's one of the best white-ball bowlers in the world when fit - both at the start and at the end of an innings - so that is a massive loss.
Without Stokes and Curran, two all-rounders, we've already seen in the run-up to the tournament, England are trying to balance the side and deciding whether to play the extra batter or extra bowler. Having said all that, this is a fabulous white-ball outfit and I think they've got a really good chance of going one better than they did in the last World T20. It'd be nice for Eoin Morgan to return to form but he's a wonderful captain and I think they've got a really good chance.
Key: I think they will do fine. I'm still confident but they're not in as good a position as they could have been, there is no Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes or Sam Curran. England have a slight dilemma with the make-up of their team. Do they go five bowlers and Liam Livingstone? How do they use Moeen Ali? It's going to be interesting to see how they do it.
Key: Jos Buttler. You've always got to go for one of the openers, you're basically picking between them and I think Buttler looked great in the warm-up game against New Zealand, this could be his time.
Hussain: I'm going to go with KL Rahul. It was between him and Buttler. Both those sides would hope to qualify all the way through so they'll play more games and, in a category like this, you want someone who is playing seven games!
I just think KL Rahul, the nick he's in, the form he's shown in the IPL, his T20 stats and he's just so elegant, so pleasing on the eye, strokes the ball, plays spin and quick bowling really well and he seems to get timing from these dead pitches.
Hussain: I would go either Jasprit Bumrah or Adil Rashid. Bumrah, not only because he's a high-quality bowler but where he bowls his overs. You'd expect him to get wickets up front with the new ball and at the death, wicket-taking potential is high for anyone but, for him, with his yorkers and slower balls - I'd expect him to be right at the top of the list.
Rashid is ranked No 4 in the world, conditions here are perfect for him and Morgan uses him brilliantly. I think it'll be between him and Bumrah, I might just lean towards the India man.
Key: I like Jasprit Bumrah, I always love watching him in T20 cricket. You want someone who is going to go a fair way in the competition and I think Bumrah is an absolute genius.
One to watch
Hussain: Tymal Mills. He's waited so long, he's had injuries, they've let him be out there in franchise cricket, we've seen how good he is in The Hundred this summer, we've seen how good he is for Sussex. England are going to need pace, anyone is going to need pace out here in the UAE but also you're going to need that variety and he has that, firstly as a left-armer but also through the variety of slower balls he bowls into the pitch.
For example, against West Indies, you're up against Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell, you don't want pitch-it-up medium dobbers at those two, you want a bit of pace and bang it in at them so he's that type of bowler. He needs to play, though, and there is no guarantee of that, and he also needs to stay fit. But I would have Mills, he's a point of difference and I think him and Mark Wood are going to be a handful.
Key: Shaheen Shah Afridi. He's not new on the scene but he's still young. This is what they seem to do in Pakistan, pick people young and now you've got someone who is left-arm, quick, has got control and is almost at the peak of his powers. Bowlers impact every game, good and bad, and I think he'll impact every game in a positive way.