Of the four groups at the ICC World Twenty20 starting September 18, Group C is just ahead of Group A in terms of predictability. Sri Lanka, the hosts, are placed alongside the No.1 Twenty20 team, South Africa, and Zimbabwe leaving little to the imagination in terms of which two will move on to the second round of the tournament.
The Mahela Jayawardene-led Sri Lanka have the highest win-ratio in the tournament, with 12 wins in 18 matches. They didn’t have a good time in the 2007 edition where they were knocked out in the Super Eights after being defeated by Pakistan and Australia, but made a strong comeback in 2009. Sri Lanka played exceptionally well throughout the tournament and were unbeaten until they met Pakistan in the final at Lord’s. In 2010, they reached the semi-finals and were knocked out by eventual winners England.
South Africa, No. 1 in the format, go into the tournament as title contenders but as always, there will be questions over their ability to make it past the semi-finals. They boast a strong batting line-up in Richard Levi, owner of the fastest Twenty20 international century, an in-form Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, skipper AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy.
That is backed by a very good bowling attack comprising Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Wayne Parnell and two canny slow bowlers in Johan Botha and Robin Peterson who will be handful in Sri Lankan conditions. A very strong side indeed.
Zimbabwe, at the bottom of the ICC’s Twenty20 rankings, are the underdogs in this group. To make it beyond the first round they will need to play exceptional cricket, and for that to happen every single player will have to contribute because Zimbabwe are short of star players. Though they did upset Australia in the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007, it would be unrealistic to expect Zimbabwe to cause troubles to their Group C opponents.
Match one - Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe, Sept 18, Hambantota Sri Lanka and Zimbabawe will get the World Twenty20 started at the Mahinda Rajapaksha International Stadium. In conditions in which they haven’t played a lot, Zimbabwe will be under the pump to outdo Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara and Ajantha Mendis.
Match two - South Africa vs Zimbabwe, Sept 20, Hambantota Another one-sided match, on paper. Zimbabwe look no match for South Africa, who have played a lot more Twenty20 matches and are brimming with confidence after becoming No. 1 in all three formats.
Match three - Sri Lanka vs South Africa, Sept 22, Hambantota This match will be a battle between South Africa’ batting and Sri Lanka’s bowling and looks to be a cracker. Sri Lanka may just pip South Africa in the spin bowling department.