Five long years teams and fans have had to wait but the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup returns on Sunday as 16 teams look to emulate the West Indies that lifted the trophy in 2016.
It all starts with the first round in which eight teams are split into two groups, with the top two teams qualifying for the Super 12 where they will join the top eight teams in the world.
Among the teams in the first round are Sri Lanka, which has played and won more matches in the history of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup than any other team, and Bangladesh, the other always among the eight.
Bangladesh will play on the opening day against Scotland, but it all kicks off as hosts Oman take on newcomer Papua New Guinea at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground.
These four teams come into Group B, while in Group A, Ireland and the Netherlands meet in a potentially crucial match on Monday, with Sri Lanka playing Namibia later in the day.
With 12 matches in the first six days, the action is going to be intense and fast to decide which teams make it to the Super 12 as Group One looks like it’s going great with defending champions, West Indies, one-day world champion England. Heavyweights, Australia and South Africa.
They will be joined by the winners of the first group and the second place in the second group.
Meanwhile, in Group B, inaugural stage winners India were joined by superb rivals Pakistan – who will face off in their opening match – as well as New Zealand and Afghanistan, the rising power of T20 cricket, as well as Group B winners and contestants. -up from group A.
The Super 12 kicks off on October 23 with Australia against South Africa, a popular sporting event, followed by a day/night match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium between England and the West Indies – a repeat of the 2016 final when Carlos was. Brathwaite declared himself to the world.
The experienced Windies team includes three players who participated in the first T20 World Cup – universe Boss Chris Gayle, as well as multi-level player Dwayne Bravo and speed bowler Ravi Rampaul.
They are three of seven players who returned after also appearing in the first edition. The other four are Bangladeshi duo Shakib Al Hassan and Mushfiq Rahim, and Pakistani Mohammed Hafeez who opened in India, Rohit Sharma.
All of these players can have a huge impact on the bottom line, but as Brathwaite showed in 2016 with 34 out of 10 deliveries, newcomers can also become the champions.
With that in mind, could someone Babar Azam, Rishabh Pant, Luke Ferguson or Tabriz Shamsi play a significant role this time around?
Al Shamsi, the number one bowler in the men’s T20I players’ rankings, could be particularly influential on wickets in the United Arab Emirates and Oman as he tries to help South Africa reach the semi-finals for a third time.
T20 cricket is all about speed and Super 12 will also pass in a jiffy with 30 matches in just 17 days.
By the 10th of November there will be only four teams, with the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi hosting the first semi-final, while the Dubai International Cricket Stadium will host the second and final match on the 14th of November.
Over the previous six editions of the tournament, three teams reached the semi-finals on four occasions.
Pakistan did it in the first four editions, while Sri Lanka did it four times in a row between 2009 and 2014. The other side that has managed it is the West Indies, the only team that has won the tournament more than once.
Australia has the best record of any team that hasn’t won the tournament, running in three semi-finals and finishing runner-up in 2010, losing to England in the final.
Under Aaron Finch, could this be the tournament where they break their duck? Or perhaps Afghanistan will continue its remarkable rise, led by Muhammad Nabi, the world number one in all fields, and Rashid Khan, the ICC men’s T20I contract player.
At this point it is impossible to tell, so one must watch every moment of what should be an exciting World Cup.
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