Morgan, Kohli target T20 World Cup title legacy
DUBAI, OCT 13: Five years after losing a heart-stopping T20 World Cup final to the West Indies, Eoin Morgan's England start as narrow favourites in their bid to become double world champions despite the absence of Ben Stokes.
Not far behind though are Virat Kohli's India, an ever-lethal West Indies and World Test champions New Zealand -- not to mention South Africa, Australia, former winners Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and fairytale outsiders Afghanistan.
Postponed and moved twice because of the pandemic, the tournament's seventh edition kicks off on October 17 with Oman -- joint hosts with the United Arab Emirates -- taking on Papua New Guinea in a first qualifying round.
The top nations will join the event -- played in stadiums 70-percent full -- on October 23 with Australia and South Africa playing the opener of the Super 12 stage and England up against holders West Indies.
England, ranked as the world number one nation in T20 cricket, beat New Zealand to win the 50-over title at Lord's in 2019 and victory in the shortest format's showpiece event will further cement their white-ball dominance.
Morgan's team will, however, be without Stokes and Jofra Archer, who played a key part in their one-day World Cup triumph, but vice-captain Jos Buttler insists the team is "certainly one of the favourite teams."
"I know we are missing Ben and Jofra, who are two superstars of the game, but I still look down that list and see some real match-winners in our side."
England had to defend 19 runs in the last over of the 2016 final at Kolkata's Eden Gardens but Carlos Brathwaite hit Stokes for four straight sixes, giving the Caribbeans their second world T20 title.
Many of that winning team will be back, led by Kieron Pollard and old war horses Dwayne Bravo, 38, and 42-year-old Chris Gayle.
Asian giants India will begin their campaign against arch rivals Pakistan on October 24 with Kohli looking to go out with a bang before stepping down as captain of the T20 side after the tournament.
Kohli will look to repeat India's triumph in the inaugural tournament in 2007 with the then skipper M.S. Dhoni joining the team as mentor.
Swashbuckling opener Rohit Sharma is widely tipped to be Kohli's successor and will be key to the team's chances along with yorker king Jasprit Bumrah.
KL Rahul, meanwhile, hit the most sixes -- 30 -- in the Indian Premier League, which wraps up just before the T20 World Cup and which has allowed many stars the chance to get used to the UAE pitches. -AFP