Much was made during the T20 international series between India and England earlier this year that it was two teams battling it out to be the favourites for the ICC T20 World Cup.
India shaded the closely-fought series 3-2 to at least lay down a marker as potentially the team to beat in the competition.
A look at the current ICC Men’s T20I team rankings shows that England and India will start the World Cup in first and second place respectively.
England vs W Indies
October 23, 2021, 2:30pm
India vs Pakistan
October 24, 2021, 2:30pm
Australia vs S Africa
October 23, 2021, 10:30am
That fact is also reflected in the odds, with India the current favourites according to the bookies, closely followed by England.
However, taking a glance through the previous editions of the competition, it has been notoriously difficult to pick a winner.
With the help of Ed Hawkins from Betfair, here is a jaunt through how the other tournaments panned out for the pre-tournament favourites…
Favourites: Australia (15/8)
Winners: India (9/1)
Australia were the shortest-price favourites in competition history before the inaugural event, having just added a third straight 50-over World Cup trophy to their cupboard.
However, they had the worst possible start, losing by five wickets to a Brendan Taylor-inspired Zimbabwe. They sneaked through to the Super 8s, where victories over Bangladesh and Sri Lanka saw them move into the semi-finals. But they couldn’t cope with Yuvraj Singh, who struck 70 from just 30 balls to lead India to 188-5 and a 15-run victory.
Eventual winner India’s progress from the group stage was due to a rain-out against Scotland and then a 3-0 bowl-out victory over Pakistan when their match ended in a tie. However, they came good at the right time, and S. Sreesanth was in the right place at the right time to catch Misbah’s attempted paddle in the final to seal victory.
Oman vs Papua N G
October 17, 2021, 10:30am
Bangladesh vs Scotland
October 17, 2021, 2:30pm
Favourites: India (7/2)
Winners: Pakistan (8/1)
Reigning champions India sailed through their two qualifying matches with easy victories over Bangladesh and Ireland but it was a different scenario once they reached the Super 8 stage. They lost to the West Indies at Lord’s by seven wickets and then faced England in a thriller at the same venue two days later.
England posted 153-7 in their 20 overs and despite the presence of big-hitting MS Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan at the crease, India still needed 19 to win from Ryan Sidebottom’s final over. It was too much to ask, and they went down by three runs to seal their elimination from the tournament. A third straight defeat followed to South Africa.
Pakistan qualified for the Super 8s by virtue of a comfortable victory over the Netherlands after an earlier defeat to England. They lost their first game in the Super 8s before wins over New Zealand and Ireland ensured safe passage to the semi-finals. Then it was over to Shahid Afridi, who struck half-centuries in both knockout matches to give Pakistan the title.
Favourites: Australia (5/2)
Winners: England (14/1)
Australia were another short-priced favourite for the 2010 event in the Caribbean and they started well with comfortable wins over Pakistan and Bangladesh. Their perfect record continued in the Super 8 stage with further victories over India, Sri Lanka and the West Indies – all very one-sided affairs. They then faced Pakistan in a memorable semi-final at St Lucia.
Pakistan made an imposing 191-6 in their 20 overs with half-centuries from Kamran and Umar Akmal. Australia needed 70 from five overs and then 18 from the last over. After Mitchell Johnson edged the first delivery from Saeed Ajmal to fine leg for a single, Mike Hussey followed with 6,6,4,6 to stun Pakistan and move Australia into their first final.
Their surprise opponents were England, who sneaked into the Super 8s without winning a game after defeat to the West Indies and a rain-out against Ireland. They then caught fire, winning all three Super 8 games, inspired by Player of the Tournament Kevin Pietersen. Sri Lanka were overcome in the semi-final, before Craig Kieswetter’s 63 ensured they made light work of Australia’s target of 148 in the final.
Favourites: India (5/1)
Winners: West Indies (13/2)
India were quick out of the blocks with two comfortable victories to top Group A. However, Group 2 of the Super 8s also was to feature Australia, Pakistan and South Africa and it was to prove a ding-dong three-way fight.
India lost their first game by nine wickets to Australia, who knocked off the target of 141 with more than five overs to spare. The nature of that defeat meant that India would always be playing catch-up on net run-rate. They managed to defeat Pakistan by eight wickets, but, needing a comfortable victory in their final match against Sri Lanka to progress, they could only win a thriller by one run to exit the competition.
West Indies sneaked through to the Super 8s winless after losing to Australia and a no-result with Ireland, and Johnson Charles inspired them to victory over England. However they then suffered a heavy defeat to Sri Lanka before edging to a Super Over win over New Zealand to ease their progress. In the semi-final, their score of 205-4 proved too much for Australia, and they won a low-scoring final with Sri Lanka thanks to a lone hand by Marlon Samuels, who made 78.
Favourites: Australia (3/1)
Winners: Sri Lanka (6/1)
Australia’s challenge in the 2014 competition in Bangladesh never got going as they suffered an opening defeat to Pakistan, which was then followed by a loss to West Indies. Any hopes they had of progressing further were cruelly thwarted by India.
Yuvraj Singh’s 60 lifted India to 159-7, but Australia collapsed in reply. Inspired by Ravichandran Ashwin, who took 4-11, the Indian bowlers dismissed their opponents for just 86 to eliminate them from the competition. A consolation victory over hosts Bangladesh in their final match did little to lift the Aussie spirits.
Sri Lanka topped their qualifying group, helped by dismissing the Netherlands for just 39 and New Zealand for 60. Their semi-final with the West Indies was weather-affected, but they managed a reasonably comfortable victory to put themselves in the final with India. Despite Virat Kohli’s 77, India could only post 130-4, which proved no challenge for Kumar Sangakkara, whose unbeaten 52 brought a six-wicket victory.
Favourites: India (5/2)
Winners: West Indies (14/1)
India were hot favourites on home soil, but had a bad start as New Zealand bowled them out for just 79 on a vicious turner at Nagpur. However, they were able to turn that around and defeat arch-rivals Pakistan in their next match.
They then faced Bangladesh at Bengaluru and looked on the verge of defeat as Bangladesh needed just two runs from the last three balls. Astonishingly, three wickets then fell from the final three deliveries of the game to give India a one-run victory.
Their final match against Australia at Mohali was in effect a quarter-final with the winner progressing and the loser going home. Virat Kohli’s innings of 82 not out helped the hosts secure a six-wicket victory and a match with West Indies in the semi-finals.
Kohli was again in the runs, as his unbeaten 89 led India to an imposing 192-2. However, Lendl Simmons countered with 82 not out to give the West Indies a stunning victory.
The men from the Caribbean had topped their Super 10 group after victories against England, Sri Lanka and South Africa and faced England in the final at Kolkata. In a never-to-be-forgotten ending, Carlos Brathwaite smashed Ben Stokes for four sixes in the last over to seal the win.
Watch the T20 World Cup live on Sky Sports between October 17 and November 14.