The time has almost arrived for the much-anticipated ICC World Twenty20 tournament to begin. On March 16, the fifth Twenty20 World Cup will start in Dhaka, Bangladesh and for 22 days, the country will be awash with boundaries, wickets and catches, culminating in the competition’s final on April 6.
Before the tournament proper gets underway, however, two teams have the chance to earn the right to compete with the big guns by winning one of the two qualifying groups. Group A boasts hosts Bangladesh as standout favourites, while Ireland will begin hot-tips to progress from Group B.
As has become customary in international sporting tournaments, Bangladesh will contest the first match of the World T20, entertaining Afghanistan at the Sher-e-Bangla national Stadium in Mirpur.
The hosts will be looking to strike back against Afghanistan after losing boisterously recently by 32 runs in the Asia Cup. Opening batsman Tamim Iqbal is their star player and will keen to push his country into the tournament proper, or possibly even further still. The former Outlaw has three international half centuries to his name in this form of the game, as well as more than 2000 domestic T20 runs. In his country’s warm up against Ireland he made 32.
30-year-old Mashrafe Mortaza will lead the line in the tournament, the pace bowler featuring 23 times for Bangladesh in Twenty20s. Another standout performer in Bangladesh’s warm up match against their Group B counterparts, he picked up a couple of good wickets.
Bangladesh’s biggest rival to progressing further is Afghanistan who have featured in the past two tournaments.
In the 2012 campaign, they narrowly lost to India by 23 runs and were defeated by England in their other match. Their two matches in the 2010 ICC tournament left them with two defeats, at the hands of India and South Africa.
A confident victory over Kenya sealed their qualification to the 2014 tournament, with leg-spinner Samiullah Shenwari taking a stunning 5-13. Having already taken 21 Twenty20 international wickets, Shenwari is no stranger to playing in crucial matches and he will be looking to impose himself further against the tournament’s bigger oppositions.
Joining their more tournament-experienced sides are Nepal, appearing in their first ever ICC World T20. After only making their debut in first class circket in 2004, qualification is a huge achievement for the minnows, and they’ll be looking to make a name for themselves in the coming weeks. Their key man is Basant Regmi, who claimed 14 victims in the road to qualification for the tournament.
Another country making their debut appearance in the competition is Hong Kong, qualifying after finishing in sixth place in the ICC World Twenty Qualifiers in the UAE last year. Batsman Jamie Atkinson is vital to Hong Kong’s cause after hitting an impressive 242 runs in the qualifying run.
Most compellingly Munir Dar, who is 42, finished the qualifying with a tally of 17 wickets. Two days before the beginning of the World Twenty20 they beat Netherlands by 27 runs with Haseeb Amjad taking an exceptional six wickets to dismiss the opponents for 100.
International cricket returns to Trent Bridge this summer, as England face off against India in the First Investec Test Match and a sold out Royal London One-Day International. With Test Match tickets selling quickly, don't miss out and secure your seats now.