Slam-bang fiesta begins

World T20 - Hosts seek revenge against Afghanistan on opening day

Bangladesh and Afghanistan during the Asia Cup.

It’s an overdose of cricket for Bangladeshi fans as the ICC World T20 begins on Sunday, but players and their Boards will only be richer at the end of the 22-day tournament.

The two matches on Sunday include the Bangladesh-Afghanistan clash in Dhaka and the battle of minnows between Nepal and Hong Kong in Chittagong.

Bangladesh has been hosting a lot of cricket events lately, and the World T20 follows immediately after the Asia Cup, which finished only last week.

Besides, Bangladesh also played a series against Sri Lanka. Soon after the World T20, Bangladesh could also host some matches of the IPL, if the Indian government doesn’t allow the BCCI to stage games during the general election.

There is a hefty purse to be won. The 16 men’s teams would vie for the handsome top prize of $1,100,000. The women’s tournament will be played almost simultaneously and the 10 teams will try to grab the first prize of $70,000.

A men’s team will get $40,000 for each win and a women’s team $2,500. The national cricket boards will also get a share from the profit earned from the tournment.

A total of 62 matches - 35 in men’s section and 27 in the women’s – will be played in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet.

The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Indian team clinched the first edition of the tournament in 2007, but the team has failed to repeat the performance since. He continues to be captain and will hope that Lady Luck smiles on him again.

An inexperienced Indian team won the title five years ago in South Africa, followed by Pakistan (2009 in England), England (2010 in West Indies) and West Indies (2012-13 in Sri Lanka).

The ICC has increased the number of men’s teams from 12 to 16 this time and the first-round matches will be played between second- rung teams while the real competition between the seeded teams starts on March 21, with the much anticipated India-Pakistan encounter.

The tournament format has been tweaked a bit. The top eight teams at the World T20 in 2012 have been seeded into the second round, called Super 10, while Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and the six teams advancing from the World Twenty20 Qualifier in the UAE in November will play in the first round from March 16-21.

Ireland won the qualifying event, beating Afghanistan in the final. Nepal, the UAE, the Netherlands and Hong Kong are the other teams.

In the Super 10, Group 1 comprises Sri Lanka, England, South Africa, New Zealand, and the team that finishes on top in Group B of the qualifying round.

Group 2 has the West Indies, India, Pakistan, Australia, and the top team of Group A of the first round.

The fast improving Afghanistan team is gung-ho about its prospects. The team from the war-ravaged country sounded a big warning for stronger teams when they stunned hosts Bangladesh in the Asia Cup earlier this month.

That win would surely have given Afghanistan, coached by former Pakistan player Kabir Khan, a lot of confidence going into the World T20.

“When you are hosting a world tournament and want to be in the tournament but are afraid of going out, there is a lot of pressure. I personally think they [Bangladesh] are facing more pressure than us,” said Khan.

Mushfiqur Rahim-led Bangladesh will naturally be wary of Mohammad Nabi’s team as large crowds would be expecting their team to avenge the recent defeat.


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