The World T20: Team by team

Stephen Brenkley on the World T20 contenders
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The Independent Online

Group A


Prospects: Holders but that means nothing. As usual, anything could happen.

Leading from the front: If Shahid Afridi has the sort of tournament he had last year in England he could have his hands on the cup. He is a joy to watch (you never know what might happen) but as a captain he is stepping into the unknown.

Tip: Super Eights


Prospects: One of the so-called senior nations who cannot win the competition, but they are capable of an early upset.

Leading from the front: Shakib al-Hasan. One of their few authentic international cricketers, ridiculously young, at 23, to lead but he looks and plays the part to perfection. The rankings do not lie, though they may be telling a small fib, by making him the world's number one one-day all-rounder.

Tip: Group


Prospects: Hopeless in England last time out, most of their number have been honing their T20 games in the IPL.

Leading from the front: Michael Clarke. Still wet behind the ears as captain but "Pup" no longer as a player. He has won six out of eight T20 matches as captain but this will test his rapid decision-making skills to the limit and there is no time to learn on the job.

Tip: Semi-finalists

Group B

Sri Lanka

Prospects: Capable of great things if tired legs can keep running.

Leading from the front: Kumar Sangakkara. Still one of the most accomplished batsmen and the most striking of men, it has not all gone his way since he took over from Mahela Jayawardene and he had a frightful time in the IPL recently. But he seems to retain the backing of his men and his experience is worth oodles.

Tip: Semi-finalists

New Zealand

Prospects: Limited overs is virtually their only bag these days and if everybody stays fit they are capable of pushing any of their rivals to the limit.

Leading from the front: Daniel Vettori. Deeply impressive captain who swiftly made this his team after Stephen Fleming's long tenure. Took Kiwis to the Champions Trophy final last year. Knows how to win from most positions and his acute knowledge counts for much. Has splendid game-plans but his ability to move on from them if necessary will be crucial.

Tip: Super Eights


Prospects: Punching above their weight again but reliant on too few players.

Leading from the front: Prosper Utseya. Still only 24 and has been captain since 2006. His off-spin, unthreatening, is also economical in limited-overs cricket and it was notable that he and his team held their nerve in a tight warm-up match against Australia on Tuesday when Zimbabwe won by one run.

Tip: Group

Group C

South Africa

Prospects: About time they came good but their time never seems to be now.

Leading from the front: Graeme Smith. Bristling with intent, massively authoritative in all he does and with a strong record in this form of the game (14 wins from 20 games). Of course, he insists he is not tainted by previous failures when hotly tipped and if anybody can lay the bogey he is the man.

Tip: Winners


Prospects: First winners of this trophy, which kick-started T20. IPL experience gives them every opportunity.

Leading from the front: Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Urbane but competitive and resilient and the proud owner of an IPL championship after taking Chennai Super Kings calmly to the title on Sunday. Seems to have the innate capacity to ensure that every game is a big game.

Tip: Finalists


Prospects: Being here, considering everything, really is all that counts.

Leading from the front: Nowroz Mangal. So far, his country's only captain in their 11 senior international matches and was also in charge as they romped up the divisions in the ICC World Cricket League. He is by all accounts calmly assertive but this is a bigger challenge.

Tip: Group

Group D

West Indies

Prospects: The wretchedness of their winter suggests they have it all to do and cannot do it.

Leading from the front: Chris Gayle. Remains the highest scorer in an international T20 innings and one of only two men to have made a century. But his relaxed style is not always conducive to the demands of the occasion and it is difficult to see him changing now.

Tip: Super Eights


Prospects: Much hype has accompanied this squad and tight-knit though they are it is likely to remain hype.

Leading from the front: Paul Collingwood. As the senior pro he has grown as captain in his second attempt. At his first he was not afraid to experiment but tended to be devoured by unfolding events. Has learned and inwardly digested at every turn in the IPL but may not have enough of what he needs.

Tip: Super Eights


Prospects: Getting better all the time but they remain skilful amateurs. England their cup final, as they say.

Leading from the front: William Porterfield. His experience with Gloucestershire has undoubtedly made him a sharper cricketer but, though shrewd enough, his diffidence may be a disadvantage at this level of competition. Good bet to score runs.

Tip: Group