The countdown to ICC Men's T20 Cricket World Cup has begun with the announcement of fixtures for the October-November marquee event in the middle east. (More Cricket News)
The International Cricket Council on Tuesday (August 17) revealed that the tournament will begin with Round 1, Group B encounter between hosts Oman and Papua New Guinea on 17 October, with the final in Dubai scheduled to be played November 14.
The most talked-about fixture, as usual, was India vs Pakistan. The arch-rivals will meet in Dubai on October 24. And with that, sound bites also started to flood the cricket world.
Talking about the blockbuster match, former India opener Gautam Gambhir said that the "expectations are going to be really high from Pakistan as well, and at the moment, if you see, India is far more superior to Pakistan."
India and Pakistan have met only eight times in T20Is, with the former winning seven times, including that famous final of the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007.
Pakistan's only win in the format was a five-wicket victory at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru in 2012. In their last T20 meeting, India beat Pakistan by six wickets at Eden Gardens, Kolkata in 2016. Also, India are unbeaten in their last three meetings, in any format, against Pakistan.
"Yes, in a T20 format, anyone can beat anyone because it is a very individual kind of format, and we should not take any team for granted. For example, you should not take Afghanistan for granted. People like Rashid Khan can create upsets. It’s the same with Pakistan. But, yes, there will be pressure on Pakistan," Gambhir told Star Sports.
India and Pakistan are in Group 2, along with Afghanistan, New Zealand, Group B winners and Group A runners-up from Round 1.
Terming Afghanistan as the real underdogs, Gambhir said that "they have got people like Rashid Khan, Mujeeb, and Mohd Nabi," so "you can’t take them lightly."
The 39-year-old Gambhir picked Group 1 as the 'group of death,'. It has Australia, England, South Africa and West Indies, besides Group A winners and Group B runners-up from Round 1.
"You’ve got four teams locked in and playing what, on day one of the T20 World Cup, that’s going to be a very exciting Saturday. West Indies have always been very unpredictable with the kind of firepower they’ve got - they can go on to win the third time as well."
Windies are the most successful team in the history of the tournament and are defending the title, while England have won once and were also last edition's finalists.
"England has also got the firepower; they have probably got the most consistent white-ball team over the last couple of years – after winning the 50-over World Cup. Australia has literally gone off the radar, probably because a lot of main players are missing, but then again, I think they can be very dangerous on that particular day.”
The tournament was originally scheduled to be held in Australia last year. But the coronavirus pandemic forced its delayed and was given to India with Australia getting the next edition in 2022.
But ICC was forced to move the tournament to the United Arab Emirates and Oman with India still retaining the hosting rights.