T20 World Cup: The curse of the hosts

A dejected Virat Kohli during the 2016 World Cup semifinal loss in Mumbai.  -
A dejected Virat Kohli during the 2016 World Cup semifinal loss in Mumbai. -

The host team curse of the International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 World Cup is seemingly real.

Since its inception in 2007, none of the the past eight editions has been won by the host nation. Sri Lanka came the closest in 2012, and remains the only host nation to have made it to the finals.

Hosts India were eliminated in the 2016 semifinals, but no other host has made it to the last four.

Sri Lanka would have fancied their chances in 2012 final after limiting the West Indies to 137 for six in their 20 overs, with Marlon Samuels (78 off 56) giving the maroon a fighting chance after mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis (4/12) had ripped through the innings.

But West Indies had some mystery of their own as Sunil Narine (3/9) spearheaded a stifling bowling attack to leave Sri Lanka 101 all out in 18.4 overs.

West Indies went on to lift their first of two T20 World Cup titles as they executed a 36-run victory at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. The maroon won the trophy again in 2016, this time, in India.

The 2016 World Cup looked to be India's shot at glory as their big guns were all firing at home. However, in the semifinal, against West Indies, the hosts were unable to make use of home advantage as the Daren Sammy-led unit won by seven wickets in a high-scoring affair.

India posted a massive 192 for two, batting first, with Virat Kohli (89 not out), Rohit Sharma (43) and Ajinkya Rahane (40) punishing the Windies' bowlers.

The Windies players were undaunted as they were no strangers to Indian conditions.

Former Mumbai Indians batsman Lendl Simmons top scored with 82 not out off 51 balls, alongside sterling knocks from Johnson Charles (52) and Andre Russell (43 not out) to silence the partisan crowd at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.

The only other nation to win the tournament twice was England in West Indies (2010) and in Australia (2022).

On the contrary, host nations have won the last three 50-Over World Cup titles – India in 2011, Australia in 2015 and England in 2019.

With the ninth edition of the T20 World Cup just days away, the taboo question lingers among cricket enthusiasts, especially in the Caribbean: can West Indies break the so-called curse of the hosts?

Newsday spoke with former world number one T20 bowler and two-time T20 World Cup winner with West Indies Samuel Badree, who shared his thoughts on the possibility of the maroon breaking the longstanding curse.

Home advantage in this tournament, he said, is a myth yet to be debunked.

“Dating back to 2007, no host country has been able to win it. This belies popular thinking that the hosts have an advantage of playing at home.”

Badree believes the team has a well-rounded crop of players who have the depth to possibly lift a historic third T20 World Cup title.

“The WI team has a great chance of reversing this trend, based on the composition of their team and recent performances at home, where they have beaten both India and England in 2023.”

The maroon started 2023 with a 2-1 T20 series win away to South Africa in March, then defeated India 3-2 at home in the Caribbean in August, before closing off the year with a 3-2 triumph over England in December.

The only T20I series played in 2024 was against Australia, in February, which West Indies lost 1-2.

Badree, however, also thinks the familiarity with the region’s climate and knowledge of each pitch in the Caribbean should give the hosts a slight edge above the visiting nations.

BEATEN: Sri Lankans Mahela Jayawardene, left, and Kumar Sangakkara look on during the prize-giving ceremony as West Indies lift the 2012 World Cup trophy. -

Pitch conditions play a key role in providing a slight competitive advantage, and should be used by the West Indies to capitalise on their opponents.

He added, “Familiarity with distinctly different conditions across the region should augur well for the team. There are players from the various host territories in the squad which will bolster knowledge of home conditions. As an example, there are five players from Guyana, where the West Indies open their campaign."

The two-time winners open their T20 World Cup Group C quest against Papua New Guinea at Providence Stadium in Guyana on June 2, and will bank on the guidance of Guyanese players Shimron Hetmyer, Shamar Joseph, Gudakesh Motie, Sherfane Rutherford and Romario Shepherd.

Six days later, they play Uganda at the same venue and travel to Trinidad to face New Zealand at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (June 12). They close off the group stage against Afghanistan in Gros Islet, St Lucia, on June 17.

Ex-Windies pacer and T20 World Cup winner Ravi Rampaul believes the squad has what it takes to shatter the curse.

At the tournament launch in Trinidad, the former fast bowler said the talent is there in the squad to break this trend. He also threw his support behind team captain Rovman Powell, who he thinks is the leader the squad needs to potentially take them over the line.

“I’m looking for them to bring home the trophy. Rovman has been leading the team very well and the batting looks very strong. It’s just to get that all-round performance in the Caribbean, since they will be accustomed to the conditions. So we hope to have the upper hand.”


"T20 World Cup: The curse of the hosts"

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