The ICC World T20 is upon us. This is the first edition of the tournament that will be held in India, which has the distinction of being the first-ever winner of this tournament. This is the sixth edition of the global tournament of the newest format of cricket. This event is a special one considering that it involves the maximum teams – 16 – and is held every two years. In fact, it was hosted back-to-back in 2009 and 2010. The tournament will be held from 8th March to 3rd April. The qualifying draw will comprise the initial phase and continue from 8th to 13th March and after that the main tournament will begin.
This format is being followed from the previous edition held in 2014 at Bangladesh. Previously 16 teams were divided into four groups in the preliminary stages. This year the tournament will be spread across seven grounds in India. They may be enumerated as below:
- Eden Gardens at Kolkata will host four matches including the final
- M Chinnaswamy Stadium at Bengaluru will host three games
- Wankhede Stadium at Mumbai will host four games including a semifinal
- Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium at Dharamshala will host eight games
- Feroz Shah Kotla Ground at New Delhi will host four games including a semifinal
- Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium at Mohali will host three games
- Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium at Nagpur will host nine games
Why has the tournament become so popular?
2007 could be regarded as a watershed year in the context of India’s T20 cricket. Ever since India became the champions in the first-ever T20 World Cup staged in South Africa and the city-based Indian Premier League (IPL) was launched by the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) T20 has become the preferred format for Indian cricket lovers. Interestingly enough, after the introduction of IPL India has reached only one World T20 final – at Bangladesh in 2014 against Sri Lanka. However, that has not seemed to wane the popularity of this format in India.
India’s recent form in T20s has also been decent with a series win in Australia that has catapulted them to the top of ICC rankings. However, IPL can deserve the biggest credit for this immense popularity. An IPL auction is easily one of the most-followed events in India’s domestic cricket calendar. The galaxy of Indian and international stars playing in the tournament is one of the major reasons for that. The close nature of most games only adds to the appeal. Indian audiences these days are also exposed, thanks to satellite television and internet, to other similar tournaments across the world like Big Bash League (Australia), NatWest T20 Blast (England), Ram Slam T20 (South Africa), Caribbean Premier League (West Indies), Bangladesh Premier League (Bangladesh), and Pakistan Super League (Pakistan).
In fact, even cricketers in India and outside are eager to participate in the tournament with the exception of few names here and there. Last year, when the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy – a T20 tournament held for the domestic teams in India – was played alongwith the IPL rendering it meaningless. During the annual meeting with the board officials the coaches and captains of domestic teams asked that the schedule be altered so that the players stood a chance at the auction. This is why the tournament was completed before the auction this year thus making it easier for players to get noticed. In fact, a lot of local Indian talent was lapped up by the franchises over proven international performers such as Guptill. The importance of Indian audience in the global T20 firmament could also be understood from the fact that the Champions League T20, a tournament for franchises around the world, was cancelled because it was unable to become popular in India.
Who are the participating teams?
As has been said already this year there will be 16 teams – a trend, which started from the 2010 World T20 held in the Caribbean. Eight teams have directly qualified for the main draw and eight others will play in the qualifying stage from where two will proceed to the next stage. This format promotes the strength vs. strength formula and makes the smaller teams earn their place. Last year, Netherlands progressed from its group stunning Ireland in a thrilling run chase. In the group league it almost knocked off South Africa and defeated England. Something similar can be expected this year as well.
Coming back to the group formation, the eight qualifiers have been arranged into two groups of four each:
- Group A: Bangladesh, Netherlands, Ireland, and Oman
- Group B: Scotland, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, and Hong Kong
The draw for the main tournament looks like this:
- Group 1: Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies, England, and winner of Group B
- Group 2: India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Australia, and winner of Group A
Also Explore :