So much has changed in the last 18 months that the T20 World Cup has had to shift from Australia to India to the UAE, and the hosting dates changed from 2020 to 2021.
*So much has changed that seemingly undroppable players from former champions Sri Lanka, Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickewella and Kusal Mendis, have been made to serve two-year bans for a bubble breach in England and the trio is now contemplating a move to the US.
*So much has changed that both West Indies and England, the champions and runners-up respectively of the 2016 edition, don’t have the protagonists of that dramatic final over at the Eden Gardens. Carlos “Remember the Name” Brathwaite and Ben Stokes are both missing from the squads. The only time Brathwaite will be seen is on digital platforms as an expert. And what of the third character, the man of the match, in the final and the one in 2012 too, Marlon Samuels? He has been charged for corruption after one scandal too many.
*…West Indies have chosen to drop one of their biggest match-winners and the man in form at the recently concluded IPL, Sunil Narine, as he reportedly failed a fitness test and brought in Ravi Rampaul, a guy who last bowled in international cricket in 2015.
*…the two spinners India had drafted in to replace R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the white-ball formats to provide middle-overs potency, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, are both out of the squad, while Ashwin and Jadeja are back.
*…one of India’s key players in ICC white-ball events, Shikhar Dhawan, has been left out, despite being captain in his last assignment.
*…India’s jersey has gone through three shades of blue.
*…one of the consistent murderers of bowling attacks over the years, Australia’s David Warner, can easily predict the next stock market crash, but can’t predict when and where he will score his next run.
*…one of the consistent epitomes of inconsistency, Glenn Maxwell, is now firing in at least eight out of 10 games, if not all 10.
*…the man who captained India in all six previous T20 World Cups, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, announced his international retirement on Instagram 14 months ago, only to be back in the Indian dressing room as a mentor this time around.
*…the values of RTPCR tests are now looked at more seriously than values of beep tests.
*…being negative is being considered as the biggest positive.
*…a World Cup winning captain, Eoin Morgan, tells the media that he is willing to drop himself, for he doesn’t know if it’ll make a difference if he bats right or left-handed.
*So much has changed that a T20 innings, which had no DRS reviews, will now have two.
YET, SOME THINGS REMAIN THE SAME…
o India, despite the emotions the side may be feeling after Virat Kohli announced that he is going to give up T20 captaincy after this tournament ends, are still the favourites.
o Pakistan, like always, are still the dark horses.
o West Indies, despite being a team of ageing stalwarts, look good to do a threepeat. This, after all, is the format that they thrive in.
o England, with the side they have, can catch fire at any point and can reasonably hope to become the first side to hold both the T20 and ODI World Cups.
o New Zealand, led by the immensely affable Kane Williamson, are still ever consistent in global events and look capable of adding to their trophy cabinet after tasting success in the Test format in June.
o There’s another thing that has not changed. T20 remains the grandfather of unpredictability and thrills. Expect plenty of pleasant and unpleasant surprises in the desert.