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T20 World Cup 2024: WI, NZ, Afghanistan battle it out in 'Group of Death'

T20 World Cup 2024: West Indies, New Zealand and Afghanistan fight it out for top two spots in Group C.

T20 World Cup 2024: New Zealand, West Indies to fight out Afghanistan for 2 spots in Group C | Walking Wicket (Source_ ©Twitter_X)
T20 World Cup 2024: NZ, WI and Afghanistan to fight for 2 spots (Source: ©Twitter/X)

The ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 features several competitive groups, but none have attracted as much attention as Group C, aptly dubbed the "Group of Death." This designation stems from the formidable collection of teams that comprise this group: New Zealand, Afghanistan and West Indies. Each team brings a unique set of strengths, making every group game a potential thriller. 

New Zealand: The Consistent Contenders

New Zealand enters the T20 World Cup with a reputation for consistency and a strategic approach to the game. The Kiwis have demonstrated remarkable resilience in international tournaments, consistently advancing to the latter stages. Key players like Kane Williamson, known for his calm demeanour and strategic acumen and Glenn Phillips, with his explosive batting style and handy off-spin bowling, provide a balanced batting line-up. New Zealand's top-order stability is complemented well by their middle-order versatility.

In terms of stats, New Zealand boast a high win percentage in T20Is over the past few years, often surpassing 60%. Their ability to adapt to different conditions makes them a tough opponent. With one of the best swing bowlers in the world in Trent Boult and the sheer pace of Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry, New Zealand has a formidable bowling attack. Additionally, they have Mitchell Santner, who played in the Major League Cricket in the USA last year and leg spinner Ish Sodhi, both capable of troubling batters on any kind of pitch.

Afghanistan: The Spin Kings

Afghanistan's rise in international cricket has been nothing short of meteoric, largely driven by their exceptional spin attack. Rashid Khan, Noor Ahmed and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (6.35 economy in 46 matches) are not just stars in their national team but are also highly sought-after players in global T20 leagues. Rashid Khan, in particular, is a game-changer, with a T20I bowling average of 12.63 and an economy rate under 7. He is one of the most economical bowlers in the format's history. They also boast some good pacers in the likes of Fazalhaq Farooqi (6.60 economy rate in 35 matches) and Naveen ul Haq (8.18 economy). 

Afghanistan's batting line-up has shown significant improvement, with players like Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran and Najibullah Zadran adding depth and aggression. Despite this, their batting can be inconsistent under pressure. Their recent performances have shown an upward trajectory, with an impressive win ratio against top-tier teams, indicating their growing prowess and making them a formidable opponent in the group. In the series against India earlier this year, they registered their best T20I total against the Rohit Sharma-led side, crossing 200-run mark for the fourth time. 

T20 World Cup 2024_ West Indies one of the favourites to lift the World Cup _ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©Twitter_X)
West Indies have won their first game (Source: ©Twitter/X)
West Indies: The Unpredictable Powerhouse

West Indies, with their rich T20 heritage, bring an unpredictable yet explosive style of play to the World Cup. Known for their aggressive batting, featuring power-hitters like Shimron Hetmyer, Rovman Powel, Andre Russell and Nicholas Pooran, the team is capable of posting or chasing down mammoth totals. Historically, West Indies have won the T20 World Cup twice, a testament to their capability in this format.

However, their recent form has been patchy. The team has struggled with consistency, particularly in adapting to slower pitches, which could be a significant disadvantage in the Caribbean conditions. Despite these challenges, their ability to turn a game around within a few overs keeps them in the hunt and adds to the intrigue and competitiveness of Group C. Playing at their home and knowing the pitches well, Windies are one of the strongest contenders to clinch the World Cup. The series wins at their own backyard against India (3-2) and England (3-2) is the testament to their ability to thrive and perform at their home. 

The Underdogs: Papua New Guinea and Uganda

While New Zealand, Afghanistan and West Indies are the headliners of Group C, the presence of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Uganda adds another layer of complexity. Both teams are seen as underdogs but their participation is crucial for their cricketing development and the global growth of the sport. 

Papua New Guinea has shown flashes of brilliance in ICC tournaments, with players like Tony Ura and Assad Vala leading their efforts. Uganda, on the other hand, is relatively new to the stage but has made significant strides in African regional cricket.

Why "Group of Death"?

The term "Group of Death" is often used in sports to describe a group where the competition is extraordinarily fierce and no clear favourites can be easily predicted. In the case of Group C, the combination of New Zealand's strategic solidity, Afghanistan's spin wizardry and West Indies' explosive unpredictability creates a highly competitive environment. Each match in this group is expected to be tightly contested, with any of the top teams capable of beating the other on their day.

Moreover, the stakes are incredibly high as only the top two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stages. Lastly, the presence of underdogs like PNG and Uganda, who could potentially cause upsets, adds to the suspense and excitement, making Group C the most closely watched group in the tournament.

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