Dubai: Former Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has said that with no team being a clear favourite to win the trophy, it has made the ICC T20 World Cup extremely exciting. The tournament starts on October 17 in Muscat and ends on November 14 in Dubai.
“The most exciting thing about the T20 World Cup 2021 is that there are no clear favourites. Coming into the competition in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, it feels like there is no standout side and as a result, any one of a large number of teams could end up lifting the trophy,” wrote Muralitharan in his column for the ICC.
Muralitharan believes that the power-play overs will be crucial for the teams, irrespective of batting or bowling first.
“The crucial factor will be the first six overs. That is what teams need to focus on, whether they are batting or bowling. I think that 70 to 80 per cent of the game depends on those first six overs and the result comes down to how well you do in that period.
“People will look at the latter overs and, of course they are important too, but if you don’t get it right at the start, there is so little time to catch up. It’s not like a one-day game or a Test match, everything comes down to getting a good start. That is part of the reason that I think the World Cup is wide open.”
Talking about Sri Lanka, Muralitharan acknowledged that the current side hasn’t been playing well, because of which they are not in the Super 12 stage of the tournament.
“From a Sri Lankan perspective, the team will have to go through qualifying in the first round. The team has gone down in the last five or six years and it’s the first time in our history that it has happened to us.”
Sri Lanka, the 2014 champions, have been a shadow of their glorious days. Low rankings meant that they are now in Round 1 of the T20 World Cup.
“Frankly speaking, we were not good enough, and have not played good enough cricket which is why we are in this position. But the team has capable players who can reach the Super 12s and have an impact, but first they have to qualify,” added Muralitharan.
The 49-year-old hoped that the bowlers need to be on top of their game to compensate for the weak links in batting.
“The spinners are very good, whereas the batting is a little bit weaker, but if they can step up and manage decent totals, then the bowlers can defend them. If they make it through, I think they will upset a few teams.”
Muralitharan signed off by saying Sri Lanka need to enjoy playing the game and not give in to pressure or overthinking.
“My advice to the Sri Lankan players and everyone at the World Cup would be not to overthink it, particularly the bowlers. Don’t focus on the names and the players you are going up against. You have to try not to worry about the pressure and just enjoy it. That is what T20 cricket is all about.”