As the 2014 World Twenty20 moves into the business end in Bangladesh, ten top teams will sweat it out for the coveted trophy in round two called the Super10, with Asian rivals India and Pakistan playing the opener at Mirpur's Shere Bangla National Stadium on Friday.
The expanded 16-nation tournament saw the minnows fighting in round one for the two qualifying spots in the main round of the tournament.
Archrivals India and Pakistan, who are placed with Australia and defending champions West Indies in Group 2, will be joined by qualifiers Bangladesh. In Group One, South Africa, Sri Lanka, England and New Zealand will have the second qualifier. Top two teams from both the groups will qualify for the semis.
Fresh from their win against India in the recently concluded Asia Cup, Pakistan, who were the champions in 2009, will look to upset their neighbours early on in the tournament.
As per the stats, Pakistan enjoy a better run than India in the World Twenty20s despite having never beaten them, 9as they have made it to the semis in all editions of the tournament in 2007, 2009 (winners), 2010 and 2012.
On the other hand, India, who won the tournament's first edition way back in 2007, have not been able to find foot in the semi-finals on the last three occasions.
Pakistan were humiliated by South Africa by 8 wickets in a warm-up game on Thursday, after which Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez said it was a wake up call before the marquee clash against India.
"It was disappointing the way we lost the match but we were experimenting a bit with the batting order. But it is a wake up call for us and we have a full day to prepare for the big match against India," he said.
Meanwhile, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said previous results will be irrelevant. "Nothing of the past matters in this game. The matches to follow are as important as the one on Friday, but we are not looking beyond our first game yet."
Taking a look at the other sides in the fray, reigning T20 champions West Indies will be led by Darren Sammy and feature Chris Gayle, one of the most destructive batsmen the game has ever seen. They will open their title-defence against India in Mirpur on March 23.
Australia, who have not yet won the Cup, will face Pakistan on March 23. The Aussies have opted for experienced batsman Brad Hodge and spinner Brad Hogg to boost their chances. But they will surely miss the services of pacer Mitchell Johnson, who is out due to a toe injury.
England, who won the Cup in 2010, are also hit by injuries right before the start of their campaign. Batsman Joe Root and allrounder Ben Stokes have been ruled out of the event after suffering injuries in the Caribbean. England lost the T20 series in West Indies 2-1. England are scheduled to face New Zealand on March 22 in Chittagong.
Meanwhile, the Black Caps, under the leadership of No. 1-ranked T20 batsman Brendon McCullum, lost both their warm-up games against Pakistan and Australia. They will have to come out the shadow of 'almost there' to win their first ICC trophy.
The other Asian nation Sri Lanka, who are number one in the ICC T20 rankings, have spent enough time preparing in Bangladesh, winning the Asia Cup there earlier this month after a full Test tour. The Lankans will face South Africa on March 22 in Chittagong and are the favourites to win the trophy, which will be a fitting farewell to legends Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. Both have decided to quit T20s after the tournament.
The Proteas, who embarked on a new era after the retirement of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, have been dealt with injury blows, with their fearsome fast bowler Dale Steyn and captain Faf du Plessis doubtful for the opener. Both the players are recovering from hamstring injuries. They too have never won a senior ICC trophy.
The final will be played at Mirpur on April 6.
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