Coach Jonathan Trott Captain Mohammad Nabi T20WC best Super 10s (2016)
Afghanistan have won 10 of their 20 games in the last year, notably losing a five-match series 3-2 in Ireland in August – albeit while experimenting with their batting order. In last year’s World Cup they comfortably beat the two qualifiers in the Super 12 group, Namibia and Scotland, but lost their three other games and their reliance on spin means that surfaces in Australia are likely to suit them less. Unpromisingly, the only other automatic qualifier for this year’s Super 12s that they have ever beaten in this format is Bangladesh.
Coach Andrew McDonald Captain Aaron Finch T20WC best Champions (2021)
Last year they were unexpected winners but 12 months later, playing in home conditions and with their team stronger for the emergence of Tim David as a free-hitting middle-order batter – the 26-year-old having pushed Steve Smith out of the side – a repeat would be less of a surprise. The form of Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch has been concerning, so much so that only the captaincy seems to have kept Finch in the team – over the last 12 months his average is 23.47 and his strike rate 121. But Maxwell has a habit of rising to big occasions and if Finch’s 76 against India in Australia’s final warm-up game has successfully kickstarted the captain’s engine they should be contenders.
Technical consultant Sridharan Sriram Captain Shakib Al Hasan T20WC best Super 8s (2007)
This year Bangladesh have won four games, against Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and the UAE (twice), and lost 11, completing their preparations for the World Cup by losing all four matches in the tri-series in New Zealand – playing a different pair of openers in each game. There is some talent in the team – Shakib Al Hasan is still around and in good form, having scored half-centuries against West Indies, New Zealand and Pakistan in the last few months – but they lack batting depth and firepower. Bangladesh lost every game in last year’s Super 12s and don’t appear to have improved since.
Coach Matthew Mott Captain Jos Buttler T20WC best Champions (2010)
Australia’s Matthew Wade called England “the benchmark” in this format during the recent three-game series and since leaving home soil last month Jos Buttler’s side has looked it. A poor home summer is being dismissed as teething troubles under a new coach and captain, and despite Reece Topley’s injury there is a real sense of buoyancy in the squad. With pace and bounce at a premium in Australia they have the tournament’s quickest bowler in Mark Wood, and their surfeit of all-round options allows next-level batting depth. Bowling is less of a strength, but if the batters produce the goods they can afford it.
Coach Rahul Dravid Captain Rohit Sharma T20WC best Champions (2007)
There were several reasons why India failed to make it out of the Super 12s last year, but most perplexing was their overcautious batting – in the key games against Pakistan and New Zealand they batted first, reached an unimpressive 151 and 110 in their 20 overs and failed to defend. It seems that has changed along with the captaincy – Rohit Sharma took over from Virat Kohli after that World Cup – and having scored 8.20 runs per over across 2021 this year they have gone at a world-leading 9.36. They will badly miss Jasprit Bumrah, a wonderful bowler in this format, but still look quite scary.
Coach Heinrich Malan Captain Andrew Balbirnie T20WC best Super 8s (2009)
This is Ireland’s first appearance in the second round of a T20 World Cup since 2009, earned with a brilliant and emphatic victory over West Indies in their final game of the opening stage. Paul Stirling, whose quality has never been in doubt but whose form has been wretched, clicked into gear in that match with an unbeaten 66 and if he can sustain that level his side becomes a much more dangerous proposition. Elsewhere Lorcan Tucker has massively improved since he moved to No 3 – where he averages 40.81 – last year, and George Dockrell is a quality finisher, averaging 52.16 at a strike rate of 146 over the last six months.
Coach Ryan Campbell Captain Scott Edwards T20WC best Super 10s (2014)
After the Dutch lost to Sri Lanka in their final first-round group game a dejected Scott Edwards described their disappointment. “They’re just cutthroat tournaments, aren’t they?” he said. “One little slip-up and you can be out.” One UAE win later they sailed into Group 2 anyway. There are some good players in their squad – Max O’Dowd is in fine form and Bas de Leede has been both their most dangerous bowler and second-best batter – but they score too slowly (6.40 runs per over in their group) and will surely struggle to cope with the step up in class.
Coach Gary Stead Captain Kane Williamson T20WC best Runners-up (2021)
Much of the New Zealand team will be familiar from last year’s run to the final, and any side containing Devon Conway, Kane Williamson, Glenn Phillips, Trent Boult and Tim Southee is going to be dangerous. New names to look out for include Finn Allen, who has elbowed his way in as opener over the last year, and Michael Bracewell, the 31-year-old who seven months ago had not played for his country in any format and now is involved in all of them. The opening game against Australia – who they have not beaten in Australia since 2011 – looks key; Daryl Mitchell will miss it with a broken finger and the weather forecast might be something of a dampener.
Coach Saqlain Mushtaq Captain Babar Azam T20WC best Champions (2009)
Surely the best seam attack in the tournament, spearheaded by Shaheen Shah Afridi, and the most reliable batting partnership in the shape of openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, who have scored 840 runs and average 49.41 this year. There are some issues with the rest of the top order, and as England proved in winning a seven-game series there last month they are hardly unbeatable. They were the most exciting team of the last World Cup and on these surfaces should be more dangerous and, if such a thing is possible, more fun.
Coach Mark Boucher Captain Temba Bavuma T20WC best Semi-finals (2009 & 2014)
South Africa beat England over three games this summer and that was despite David Miller only scoring 30 runs across the series. He showed what he is capable of in the recent series in India, which he started with a three-ball duck but followed it with a brilliant, unbeaten 47-ball 106, and a five-ball 19. With Rillee Rossouw and Tristan Stubbs South Africa have a trio of big-scoring batters, all of them with a strike rate above 180 this year (and Miller and Rossouw also average above 50). Less promisingly, the captain Temba Bavuma has averaged 10.66 at a strike rate of 82 and would be nowhere near most sides in this competition.
Coach Chris Silverwood Captain Dasun Shanaka T20WC best Champions 2014
Considered outsiders for the tournament by some after winning the Asia Cup in September, Sri Lanka limped through their opening group after a humiliating defeat to Namibia to earn a place in Group 1 and Chris Silverwood a reunion with England, who sacked him as coach in February. The team have also had to recover from tournament-ending injuries to Dunushka Gunathilaka and Dushmantha Chameera, both victims of muscle tears. Clearly they were poorly prepared for their first match but they have grown from that low base and it could be that having three group games to grind through the gears – and then starting the Super 12s against another qualifier in Ireland – will leave them match-honed and razor-sharp.
Coach David Houghton Captain Craig Ervine T20WC best Super 12 (2022)
Zimbabwe enjoyed the great advantage of playing their qualifying competition at home and steamrollered their way through it with five wins out of five, their all-rounder and inspiration Sikandar Raza scoring 228 runs along the way – he is averaging 41.2 this year at a strike rate of 154.50. That has continued into the World Cup itself, and Raza was not only Zimbabwe’s leading run-scorer in the opening group, among their bowlers he ranked second on economy rate (just behind Tendai Chatara) and second on wickets (after Blessing Muzarabani).