Can fearless England stop dominant India in the World T20 cricket?
How Eoin Morgan's side compares with the tournament favourites as they step up to the wicket
The Super 10 stage of the World T20 cricket tournament gets underway in India today, with the hosts taking on New Zealand in Nagpur.
While the 20-over game lacks gravitas in the eyes of many, the fireworks, cheerleaders and slogging all add to the spectacle - and the players must still perform under pressure.
"If T20 is cricket at its most transitory, then the World T20 is the most consequential form of this frivolous fun," writes Andrew Fidel Fernando of Cricinfo. "The tournament may be light on history and prestige, but in less than four hours its matches still move nations to joy and despair."
India are the runaway favourites to become the first country to win the title for a second time, but can they be stopped? Here's how the favourites measure up:
The tournament is "India's to lose", says Michael Vaughan in the Daily Telegraph. "In 2011 they proved they can handle the massive expectation from their own fans by winning the 50-over World Cup on home soil. Now they have four more years of experience in the IPL.
"In Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, India have the best batsmen in the world and MS Dhoni is still a real force and calming presence. They have everything. From one to 11, it is hard to find a weak link."
They are so dominant in 20-over cricket it would be "almost obscene" if they were to lose says Cricinfo's Fernando. Yet this is the form of the game in which a single mistake can change the course of the match, so they can take nothing for granted.
They were a laughing stock at the ODI World Cup last year but England "have been making giant strides in one-day cricket", says Michael Atherton of The Times. "Eoin Morgan's team have as much chance as anyone else in the competing pack, especially in a tournament where luck plays a massive part."
With the likes of Alex Hales, Jos Buttler and Adil Rashid in the side, England have a "blend of dangerous, big-hitting, dynamic batsmen and variety in the bowling".
They are genuine dark horses at the tournament, even if they are ranked as fourth favourites. "Whatever the outcome, few doubt that England, finally, are ready to fizz," says Andrew Miller of Cricinfo.
Despite losing to Australia in a three-match warm-up series and an extraordinary ability to "choke" in the big tournaments, South Africa remain second favourites, largely because of the awesome power of AB De Villiers, who can reduce a bowling attack to rubble in minutes.
The Proteas have never won a World Cup, but this time they "appear largely equipped" to do so, says The Guardian. "Few teams boast an opening partnership as explosive as AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock, the attack spearhead Dale Steyn is fit after a shoulder problem and the leg-spinner Imran Tahir is a top-five bowler with a white ball in hand. Are throats about to be cleared?"
Steve Smith's team contains some of the world's most exciting and unorthodox batsmen, including Aaron Finch, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell. Nevertheless, they remain "a slightly unknown quantity", according to The Independent.
"They have a side that is undeniably talented, but perhaps not so much in Indian conditions," says the paper. "The lack of a top quality spinner looks to be a real problem for them as well as well documented frailties against spin bowling."
But Fernando of Cricinfo believes the Aussies are the team "most capable of challenging the hosts".
The Kiwis have flown under the radar in the build-up to the tournament. "Brendon McCullum's retirement sees few talking up New Zealand's chances and yet their squad has more boxes ticked than empty," says The Independent. The team benefits from power-hitters, strong death bowling, Indian Premier League experience and the class of their captain, Kane Williamson."
They "might be cricket's cuddly teddy bears, but on the field they have been known to go full grizzly", says Fernando of Cricinfo. But the side lacks experience in Asia, which could be more of a problem than McCullum's absence.
The Windies remain something of an enigma. Packed with stars, they go into the tournament with little preparation and after a pay dispute. "Surely the biggest unknown package in the tournament, seemingly just as likely to implode in the group stages as go all the way and win the thing," says The Independent.
Even more erratic than the West Indies are Pakistan, who have "lost their Midas touch", says Umar Farooq of Cricinfo. "The unpredictability that was once a defining feature is now merely a liability."
The batting order is unsettled and the bowling attack relies on pace, which will not help their chances in India.
The reigning T20 champions have lost ten of their 14 matches since their triumph two years ago. They "shamble" into the current tournament, says The Guardian, after bowler Lasith Malinga stepped down from the captaincy amid a fitness scare. On the plus side, they will be familiar with the conditions.
"A watchable, well-led and well-coached side, Bangladesh may be the underdog to support," says Fernando of Cricinfo. They easily qualified for the business end of the tournament, but The Guardian is worried they may struggle to score runs. "Their batting lacks power overall, however, with their 180 for two against Oman on Sunday their only total above 170 in the past three years."
The other qualifiers from the first round knocked out Zimbabwe in the process. They are a "hugely exciting and somewhat unpredictable side" who should provide their fair share of entertainment, says The Independent. However, they are unlikely to trouble the big guns.