World T20: Five cracking games to look forward to in India

Updated 16 Dec 2015

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Shahid Afridi reacts after taking a wicket. — AFP/File
Shahid Afridi reacts after taking a wicket. — AFP/File

Pakistan versus India? Or 2015 World Cup champions Australia against runners up New Zealand? Among the 35 matches in the 2016 World Twenty20 Championship in India, there are a few which will carry a special significance and that extra bit of edge.

A total of 16 teams will be battling for the trophy in the tournament spread across eight venues from March 8 to April 3, with the final at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

Here’s a list of five potential firecrackers:

India v Pakistan: Super 10 Group 2 in Dharamsala

Perhaps the most high profile clash of the tournament, India and Pakistan will meet at the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association stadium in Dharamsala on March 19. Needless to say, the two teams carry a weight of history each time they take on each other. India is unbeaten against Pakistan in the ICC World T20, winning three of its four matches against the neighbouring country outright, and taking the other game via a bowl-out. The most famous of those wins came at the final of the inaugural World T20 when Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men lifted the trophy after a nail-biting thriller in Johannesburg.

Flashback: McCullum's shots leave Tait in disbelief

Australia v New Zealand: Super 10 Group 2 in Dharamsala

In a rematch of the ICC World Cup 2015 final, the trans-Tasmanian rivals Australia and New Zealand will clash in a Super 10 Group 2 game in Dharamsala on March 18. It will be Australia’s first and New Zealand’s second match of the tournament. That the two sides have never met in a World T20 in the past makes the clash even more interesting. Australia has defeated New Zealand four times in five T20s in the past, with New Zealand’s only victory coming in a Super Over.

New Zealand v Pakistan: Super 10 Group 2 in Mohali

Often overshadowed by the game's more obvious rivalries, New Zealand versus Pakistan T20 encounters often produce great drama as the 2009 and 2010 matches proved. Both the teams face each other in Mohali on March 22. Led by Brendon McCullum, the Kiwis would surely come out all guns blazing — as it has been there signature style since 2015 World Cup. Pakistan, on other hand, holds an edge over the Kiwis and would take confidence from their record against them. In four World T20 clashes between the two sides, Pakistan has won three times, while New Zealand managed to win one in 2010.

England v South Africa: Super 10 Group 1 in Mumbai

Having turned into a dynamic side in the shorter formats after its league-stage exit in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, England will fancy its chances when it takes on South Africa in Mumbai on March 18. It will be South Africa’s first and England’s second match of the competition. England, the World T20 champion in 2010, has won only one of its four matches against South Africa in the history of the competition. Overall too, South Africa has the better head-to-head record, having won five of the nine matches between the two sides.

Sri Lanka v West Indies: Super 10 Group 1 in Bangalore

The two most recent World T20 winners, Sri Lanka and West Indies will lock horns in Bangalore on March 20 in what is the second match of the tournament for both sides. Sri Lanka, the defending champion, have won five out of six encounters against West Indies in World T20s, but its only loss came in the final of the 2012 edition at home, handing West Indies its maiden title. Overall, Sri Lanka holds the upper hand, having won six of the eight matches between the two sides.