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What have been the highlights so far in the men’s T20 World Cup?

If you live outside of the Eastern Hemisphere or don’t come from England, you might be surprised to learn that cricket is the second most-watched sport in the entire world, only behind soccer. For those living in North or South America, or Africa and large parts of Europe, you might not have ever even heard of the sport, let alone see a match live. However, its popularity is undeniable, with it being estimated that 2.5 billion in the world follow the sport, if not watch it religiously.

In some parts of Asia, such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, it almost is a religion. The players, such as Virat Kohli, Babar Azam and Mohammad Naim are treated like gods and are some of their nation’s most popular icons. Kohli especially; as the captain of India, essentially has a billion people cheering him on in each match.

There are several different formats of the game, with the three main ones being Test matches, One Day games and T20. The Test match is the most traditional form, which can last up to 5 days, with as many overs per day as they can fit in. The One Day games see each side have 50 overs to bat, and 50 overs to bowl. Whereas the T20 version is even shorter, with each side only having 20 overs each to bat and bowl.

Older fans of cricket will always feel that Test cricket is the best format, as it allows the game to take its time, with a real ebb and flow to it, as each side could dominate at different points during the innings. Others find it far too slow, and enjoy the One Day or T20 games much more, as they are usually much higher scoring, as the teams only have a limited number of overs to score their points in.

The 2021 T20 World Cup has just begun, taking place in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. The first part of the competition sees 8 unseeded teams battle it out in 2 groups, with the top 2 from group A and group B making it through to the next stage when the big guns enter the fray. That doesn’t mean that the first round stage isn’t full of excitement, far from it. There have been some excellent games so far, as viewers at home are gripped to their screens, and searching to find odds so they can bet on player stats throughout the matches, so predict who will win each game.

Let’s review the best of the action so far, and try to predict which teams might perform best in the next round.

All to play for in Group A

As we mentioned, two teams from each group make it through to the next round of the T20 World Cup, to the stage known as the ‘Super 12’. With two games played each in group A, Sri Lanka are the nation looking most likely to qualify. They opened their tournament against Namibia, winning the toss and electing to put the African side into bat first. They managed to bowl them all out for 99 runs, which is a very poor score for international cricket. They then had no difficulty chasing down the target, scoring 100 runs for the loss of just 3 wickets.

In their next game, they opened the batting against Ireland, scoring 171/7. Despite their best efforts, the Irish were all bowled out for 101, in just 18.3 overs.

Sri Lanka are playing the Netherlands next, and should win easily, given the Dutch have lost both games so far. That leaves the final place between Ireland and Namibia. Given that Namibia only just made it past the Netherlands, matching their total with just 6 balls remaining, we believe Ireland will be the second team to qualify.

Scotland make it through Group B

Over in group B, Scotland are safely through to the Super 12, having won all 3 of their games. First off they were up against Bangladesh, scoring 140/9 after limiting Bangladesh to just 134/7. Then they recorded an impressive 165/9 against Papua New Guinea, before bowling out the Pacific Island side for 148 in 19.3 overs, before comfortably beating host nation Oman, scoring 123/2 in reply to 122.

Bangladesh are the other side who have escaped the first round, as apart from their loss to Scotland, they won their other two games. They set a score of 153 to beat for Oman, who could only manage 127/9 in response, before putting Papua New Guinea to the sword, making 181/7 during their batting session, before bowling the opposition out for just 97 runs.

So that puts Scotland, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and probably Ireland through to the Super 12. We doubt any of these teams will make it into the semi-finals, but getting into the next round will still count as a big achievement for these sides.

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