World T20 2014: Every Team's Worst-Case Scenario for Rest of Tournament
Already, after just a handful of days through the Super 10s' stage of the 2014 ICC World Twenty20, there have been some compelling and intriguing storylines to emerge.
Despite arriving at the tournament in poor form, India have quickly shot to the favourites' tag after two impressive victories over Pakistan and the West Indies, while Sri Lanka have rapidly wrestled control of Group 1 on the other side of the draw.
Meanwhile, the likes of the West Indies, Australia and England are all facing uncertain futures following opening-match defeats over the weekend.
Here, we examine the worst-case scenario for each country for the remainder of the tournament. For a selection of teams, that could involve losing a star player to injury, while for others, it may mean enduring a desperately poor tournament from a crucial figure.
Conversely, the remainder of the competition may be an exercise in salvaging pride for a couple of lesser lights.
Those worst-case scenarios are outlined across the following slides.
Australia: Brad Hogg Becomes a Burden
Australia's lack of depth and quality in the spin-bowling department was severely exposed against Pakistan on Sunday, as Brad Hogg was treated with contempt during Umar Akmal's hammering of 94 from only 54 deliveries.
Coming into this tournament, Australia were considered one of the favourites to lift the trophy. With momentum at their backs and a brutal batting line-up appearing capable of annihilating even the best attacks in the competition, it was expected that the team's spinning weakness would be glossed over.
However, Hogg's alarmingly poor performance against Pakistan has raised concerns for Australia and their reliance on pace in such spin-friendly conditions in Bangladesh.
If the 43-year-old Hogg is unable to turn around his form, George Bailey and Co. will have some heavy lifting to do with the bat, while the likes of Mitchell Starc and Doug Bollinger will be under extreme pressure to claim top-order wickets.
Somehow, the veteran left-armer must find a way to be a genuine threat in the middle overs, or Australia's vaunted top-order will simply find themselves having too much to do game in, game out.
Bangladesh: Suffer Humiliation on Home Soil
Hosting a major international tournament for the first time, it's critical that Bangladesh put together a sterling campaign in this World Twenty20.
Defeats of any kind on home soil carry a significance in modern cricket, forcing administrators to look beyond the nation's immediate squad to identify the greater and underlying causes of failure.
However, embarrassing and heavy losses at home can be severely damaging, with both reduced attendances and television audiences among the first side-affects of such occurrences.
For the continued growth and development of cricket's newest Test-playing nation, it's imperative that Bangladesh quickly forget their worrying defeat to Hong Kong and take a brave fight to the heavyweight outfits in their intimidating group.
England: Team Doesn't Mentally Recover from Opening-Match Disappointment
England are entitled to feel aggrieved by the manner of their loss against New Zealand on Saturday.
Despite the controversy surrounding the timing of the umpires' decision to leave the field, Stuart Broad and his team will feel that the Duckworth-Lewis method was rather severe on England, given that the Kiwis were essentially handed the match for five overs of impressive batting.
Now the challenge for England is to rebound quickly from their opening-match setback. However, that will present significant challenges.
Early momentum in international tournaments is critical, given the short time a team has to turn around their performances. While the side's batsmen put together an impressive total of 172-6 against New Zealand, it's possible that a lingering frustration will be inherent in Broad and his team, which could spell bad news given the task they face in qualifying from their group.
India: Virat Kohli Loses Form
If anything can prevent India from reaching the final of this World Twenty20, it's a sudden drop off in performance from the side's batsmen.
Of all India's swashbuckling swordsmen, Virat Kohli is undoubtedly his team's most critical figure.
So far in the tournament, MS Dhoni's side haven't been tested with the bat, thanks to two sublime performances from the team's wealth of spinning options.
However, the Indian captain will hold concerns for his batsmen, given that the opening partnership of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma is yet to flourish in T20 cricket, while Yuvraj Singh looks vastly out of sorts at present.
That places a significant burden on Kohli. Should the prolific right-hander suffer a loss of form and touch over the coming weeks, then India's charge to a second World T20 title could potentially be halted.
Netherlands: Suffer a String of Record-Breaking Losses
The Netherlands' stunning victory over Ireland in the opening stage of this year's World T20 is now a distant memory, following the team's capitulation to Sri Lanka on Monday.
Arriving at the match with little hope of victory, the Dutch outfit would have settled for an admirable performance against the world's leading T20 side.
Instead, they were spectacularly blown apart by the Sri Lankans, bowled out for a paltry 39 in just 10.3 overs to record the lowest score ever witnessed in international T20 cricket.
Now the remainder of the Netherlands' campaign must focus on salvaging some pride, as a string of record-breaking defeats could severely hinder the hopes of associate nations wanting a greater level of participation and support in global tournaments.
Pakistan: Self-Destruction Habit Continues
Pakistan will be delighted with their thrilling victory over Australia on Sunday. Perhaps more than anything, Mohammad Hafeez will be buoyant about his team's ability to show composure with both the bat and ball after being severely challenged in both innings of the match.
However, Pakistan's frenetic and brainless showing against India in the Super 10s' opener is a template of how Hafeez's team regularly brings about its own downfall in international tournaments.
That invariably starts with the team's top-order, which already in this competition has been disappointing, with both Ahmed Shehzad and the captain himself struggling through the first two matches.
If the men in green are any chance of claiming a second World T20 title, a sense of calm needs to come over this side, as too often the team is its own worse enemy in critical encounters.
Sri Lanka: Star Trio Show Their Age
Kusal Perera's impressive innings in Sri Lanka's narrow victory over South Africa on Saturday hid the failures of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan.
However, if the world's No. 1 T20 outfit have plans on securing their first World T20 title, then the team's ageing trio will need to play a big hand in setting competitive totals.
Against South Africa, Dilshan played an all-too-familiar and ugly across-the-line swipe to be bowled by Dale Steyn; Jayawardene was undone by the pace and bounce of Morne Morkel; while Sangakkara was dismissed by an equally poor shot off Imran Tahir.
If not for Perera, the South Africans would have been chasing something far less than 166.
Of course, it's premature to write off the prolific trio, but Sri Lanka's worst-case scenario would undoubtedly be their three veterans quickly showing their age in this tournament.
South Africa: Dale Steyn Suffers Another Injury
South Africa are unquestionably outsiders for this year's World T20 title, given the tournament's location and the team's lack of spinning options.
However, if the Proteas have one trump card, it's Dale Steyn.
On Monday against New Zealand, the lethal right-armer again showcased his immense threat by claiming a stunning 4-17 from four overs to secure a thrilling victory for his side.
Combined with genuine pace, Steyn's unmatched control makes him a nightmare for opposing batsmen who can't afford to waste a single delivery in the T20 format.
However, Steyn has endured a rather interrupted 12 months through a collection of injures, which is a problem that surfaced recently at home against Australia.
Should the 30-year-old suffer any form of setback in this tournament, South Africa's hopes of lifting the trophy will be completely dashed.
West Indies: Chris Gayle's Subdued Form Continues
For the West Indies to successfully defend their World T20 title, Chris Gayle must be somewhere near his blistering best.
However, at present, the colossal left-hander appears to be somewhat out of sorts, with his recent run of form in the T20 arena a cause for concern for the West Indies.
While his last four scores of 18, 43, 36 and 34 appear perfectly reasonable, his strike rate across those four innings has been just 111.97—well below his career mark of 138.82.
Of course, his opening partner's struggles severely hampered the West Indies against India on Sunday.
But given that Gayle represents the difference between an average and a very good West Indian side, the 34-year-old needs to return to his usually blistering ways if his team are to trouble the likes of India and Sri Lanka in this tournament.
New Zealand: Tim Southee's Poor Form Continues
Tim Southee was dealt with harshly by England on Saturday, as the right-arm seamer conceded an alarming 46 runs from his four overs.
For Southee, it's a trend that is moving in the wrong direction. Across his last four T20 appearances at international level, the 25-year-old has conceded 166 runs from 16 overs at an economy rate of 10.38.
Certainly, with the likes of Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill and Corey Anderson, the Kiwis do possess the batting power to chase down large totals. However, as both the West Indies and Pakistan have already shown, any batting line-up can be quelled by precisely delivered spin on the turning subcontinental wickets.
Thus, New Zealand simply can't rely on the explosive capacity of the team's top-order if they are to challenge for a first international limited-overs trophy.
If Southee continues to concede 10-plus runs per over, the Kiwis will be going home sooner than they'd hope.
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