After a long wait for five years, the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup returns today with 16 teams looking to emulate West Indies who lifted the trophy in 2016.
Oman and the United Arab Emirates are jointly hosting the seventh edition of the tournament. Earlier, the tournament was postponed and moved twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the same day, Bangladesh will also play against Scotland in the second match of Group B at the Al Amerat Cricket Stadium in Muskat, Oman.
In Group A, Ireland and the Netherlands face off in a potentially crucial match tomorrow, with Sri Lanka going up against Namibia later in the day.
Among the first-round sides are Sri Lanka, who have played and won more matches in ICC Men’s T20 World Cup history than any other team and Bangladesh, the other ever-present among the eight.
The tournament was originally meant to take place in Australia at the end of 2020 but was called off because of the pandemic.
Then it was slated to happen in India and was finally moved to the Gulf, but with the Indian cricket board, the BCCI, still hosts.
With 12 games across the first six days, the action will come thick and fast to decide which teams will make it through to the Super 12 where Group 1 looks a blockbuster with defending champions the West Indies, reigning one-day world champions England, and heavyweights Australia and South Africa. They will be joined by the winners of Group A and the runners-up in Group B.
Meanwhile, in Group 2, inaugural winners India are joined by great rivals Pakistan – who they will face in their opening game – as well as New Zealand and Afghanistan, the emerging force in T20 cricket, plus the winners of Group B and runners-up from Group A.
The Super 12 action kicks off on October 23 with Australia against South Africa, one of the sport’s iconic rivalries, followed by a day-night affair at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium between England and the West Indies – a repeat of the 2016 final when Carlos Brathwaite announced himself to the world.
Asian giants India will begin their campaign against arch rivals Pakistan on October 24 with Kohli looking to go out with a bang before stepping down as captain of the T20 side after the tournament.
T20 cricket is all about speed, and the Super 12 will also go by in a flash with 30 matches in just 17 days.
By November 10, we will be down to just four teams, with the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi playing host to the first semi-final, while the Dubai International Cricket Stadium hosts the second as well as the final on November 14.
Over the previous six editions of the tournament, a trio of sides has made it to the semi-finals on four occasions. Pakistan did so in the first four editions, while Sri Lanka did it four times running between 2009 and 2014. The other side to have managed it are the West Indies, the only team to have won the tournament more than once.
Australia have the best record of any team not to have won the competition, with three semi-final appearances and one runners-up finish in 2010, beaten by England in the final.