It took seven attempts, but the Aussies finally laid their hands on their maiden T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman last year. After suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of England earlier in the tournament, Australia showed great resolve to see off Pakistan and New Zealand on their way to claiming the title. Now with the competition being held in their backyard this Autumn, the question looms as to whether they can overcome adversity once again to repeat the feat. With the incumbent champions currently sitting fifth in the overall T20I rankings few would label them favourites to retain their crown, but you’d be daft to write off the six-time World Cup winners before the first match on October 16th. Josh Hazlewood, Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell are just a few of Australia’s key men beginning to show signs of the form that helped them lift the trophy in 2021. Add to that David Warner’s rich vein of form at the top of the order for the Delhi Capitals and there’s more than enough indication that it will be no easy task knocking the Australians off their perch.

India out for revenge

The Aussies will face stiff competition on home soil, namely favourites India who are looking to avenge their woeful display last year. To say India’s 2021 World Cup bid did not go as planned is an understatement. Their challenge was all but over after the opening two matches. A humbling ten-wicket defeat to rivals Pakistan followed up with a similarly dominant display by New Zealand effectively dumped Virat Kohli’s men out of the tournament in demoralising fashion. Wins against Afghanistan, Namibia and Scotland did little to appease the staunchest of critics as their underwhelming performance sparked accusations of apathy, a lack of leadership and poor team selection.

Despite the disappointment of last year, there is still good reason for optimism. India sits top of the IT20 rankings as favourites to edge out the competition and win it all with odds of 7/2 with some of the biggest gambling sites in the UK. If they’re to live up to this billing they will need the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and KL Rahul to be at the top of their game. Bumrah is one of, if not the most consistent pace bowlers in T20I cricket which he proved yet again, recording his best figures against Kolkata Knight Riders in his most recent IPL outing. Meanwhile, Rahul sets the standards for openers everywhere in the 20-over format and has a game that lends itself kindly to pitches found down under.

Yuzvendra Chahal’s omission from last year’s squad was one of the biggest talking points ahead of the tournament and left India fans pondering the reasons for his absence. Another exclusion this time round would be unfathomable. He has taken the most wickets in the IPL this year with 18 dismissals, three more than his nearest contender. His consistency under the captaincy of Rohit Sharma is remarkable, taking 28 wickets in his 19 IT20s, making him a prime contender for selection and one to watch out for come October.

The uncapped speedster Umran Malik is also turning plenty of heads clocking in at 150 km/h in almost every match he’s played in the IPL. The 22-year-old’s blistering pace has earned him 15 wickets from 10 matches with many tipping him as a potential inclusion in the World Cup squad. He is still unproven on the International stage but he unquestionably has the makings of a top talent. Regardless of whoever ends up taking the field for India this Autumn there is no doubt it will require a monumental effort to stop them in their tracks.

Who will seize an opportunity in a wide-open contest?

When the dust settled in the UAE, Australia stood alone at the top to round off what had been an immensely entertaining, closely fought and dramatic tournament. The 2022 edition of the T20 World Cup is shaping up to be no different with some tantalising contests in store. The scintillating standard of the IPL serving as a prelude to what will inevitably be one of the most competitive World Cups in recent memory. Each of the top six countries have a realistic possibility of lifting the trophy come the 13th of November, but who will seize the opportunity?

England look a likely contender despite their recent defeat to the West Indies and falling just short in their last World Cup outing. Jos Buttler is in imperious form scoring three centuries and 588 runs in this year’s IPL. Liam Livingstone is in similarly good shape, claiming 293 runs while Adil Rashid now has 81 T20I dismissals to his name with the talismanic Joffra Archer set to join him in a potent bowling lineup.

Elsewhere, the perennial nearly-men New Zealand will look to go one step further and finally claim their first World Cup. The Black Caps are the only team to feature in all 19 World Cups without winning one. While Kane Williamson hasn’t been firing on all cylinders in the IPL thus far, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult and Tim Southee have 30 wickets between them and with Martin Guptill in their ranks you can expect a few more stellar performances from this experienced outfit. Maybe this year will at long last be theirs.

Pakistan was the unexpected package in 2021 and they will be looking to cause a stir yet again in 2022. The exploits of Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan have made Pakistan prime contenders for the title and capable of beating anyone on their day. South Africa also had a strong tournament in 2021 only just falling short of a semi-final appearance. Kagiso Rabada is the standout performer this term with 17 wickets and Quinton de Kock matching him for form with the bat having already scored 294 runs for Lucknow Super Giants.

Who will be in the final is anyone’s guess, but it’s hard to overlook the mouth-watering prospect of the defending champions facing the favourites out to avenge last year’s humiliation on their own patch. Will the neutrals get the climactic fairytale finale they crave? We shall have to wait and see.