Bangladesh has already been enthralled to some pulsating games. The fans witnessed not the greatest of performances from their own team but nonetheless turned out of vast numbers to watch the Asia Cup which showed them exactly what is in store during the coming weeks; T20 World Cup 2014.
The tournament will be full of ifs and buts, although for many it will be a tight affair. The Asian teams will turn up with an advantage over the rest of the world due to the fact they will have better experience of the pitches and surroundings. Spin bowling will pay an integral part as the pitches won't offer much for the seamers. Something which Pakistan and Sri Lanka will turn to quite often. India have a few options themselves under their belt. The holding champions West Indies will hope Sunil Narine can produce his usual good form upon these surfaces which to go with their batting capabilities would also keep them in with a good shout.
India come into the tournament with a lot of questions raised about their performances over the recent past. They have struggled terribly away from home and carry serious concerns. India's bowling is not the most fearful in the tournament, but just like the previous tournaments their huge fan base will be hoping the bowling attack can nit things together. In all honesty it has never been a fearful attack but full of individuals who put performances together, much like the recent Champions Trophy and World Cup which they hold to their name.
The batting has carried India and is what has made it a formidable opposition at home on those placid surfaces. As has been their bowling, much similar has been their batting of late. India will be hoping with the reemergence of Dhoni and Yuvraj, not will it only give India extra experience in the batting department but also give it that extra depth which has been missing. Much has been made of the nature of the surfaces in Bangladesh and with that India will be hoping their spinners will come good. Amit Mishra who has been on the fringes has proven in the Asia Cup when given the opportunity what he is capable of. With the squad they have and the additions of Dhoni & Yuvraj, India will be held by many as strong contenders.
Sri Lanka walk into the tournament as kings of Asia. Their unbeaten and emphatic display throughout the tournament showed just why they are always a side to be reckoned with. A solid fielding unit with a bowling attack led by the man they will be relying on to come good as he has so many times for them; Lasith Malinga. With 60 wickets to his name after 50 games and an average of 21.61, his ability to bowl yorkers at will, will add to Sri Lanka's spin department which will most likely be led by their leading wicket taker in T20's Ajantha Mendis.
Their fully capable bowling and fielding unit is backed up by some of the strongest batsmen in the format.
Three of the four top batsmen in the format are Sri Lankan. With so many strong teams in the tournament Sri Lanka have an incredibly balanced side. Solid bowlers, very good fieldsmen and some of the best batsmen, including the legendary Sangakkara who they will hope can come good as he always does. His form throughout the Asia cup was brilliant and his knock vs India showed just what experience he has. Dilshan will face a late fitness test but it won't harm Sri Lanka much as they have plenty who are just as capable waiting for a shot to show what they have got.
Pakistan like the other Sub-continental teams enter the grand stage with high hopes. They will be looking to returning home to Pakistan with the T20 World Cup for the second time. It is no hidden fact that Pakistan has been deprived of Cricket on its home soil, but that has not stopped the passion of the fans and team bringing forward hope due to the consistency they are used to watching from them in this format.
They produced some thrilling games in the Asia Cup and will be looking to go about things in a similar if not a better fashion. After losing the opening game to Sri Lanka they bounced back to beat India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to reach the finals, only to produce their worst performance of the tournament and lost to Sri Lanka again.
Although they were wounded in the final, they enter the T20 World Cup as statistically one of the best teams. A terrific bowling attack which is led by the magician Saeed Ajmal has held firm for quite a few years. He is ably followed up by Shahid Afridi and Captain Hafeez in the spin department. As much of a wicket taking threat they pose, their ability to keep a stable economy rate is a stern test for any opposition batsmen. A tremendous ability to grind down batsmen has worked wonders in this format for a very long time. Those three spinners are not alone as Zulfiqar Babar has shown he is a tremendous option for Pakistan also.
Four of the top ten bowlers in the format are Pakistani, with the top three spots being comfortably held by Pakistanis for quite some time.
[The leading 10 wicket takers in T20's]
The only cause for concern would be the fast bowling department. Out of form Gul and Junaid Khan have brought a slight problem to a very stable and strong unit. If Gul and Junaid can find some sort of form and aid Sohail Tanvir who will most likely partner one of them, then Pakistan have a perfect blend of bowlers for these conditions.
The batting is not the greatest but is full of wonderful natural talent. Pakistan will be hoping for more of a team effort from the batsmen, much like what was seen in the Asia Cup. Ahmad Shehzad at the top of the order comes in with good form and will be hoping to pile on the runs. Captain Hafeez seems to thrive with the captains role and has come good with the bat numerous times in the format. Pakistan will be hoping the lower order of Afridi and Umer Akmal will provide real impetus late on to produce the bigger totals which may help chase or provide solid totals which their very capable bowling unit has shown over the years can defend more or less anything. They will also be hoping for a much improved fielding display throughout. Other than a few minor issues, Pakistan will seriously fancy their chances and not surprisingly so as this format is something they really look forward to.
The holding champions West Indies are high on confidence after beating England 2-1 in the T20 series between the two. Arguably this is the one format which suites the West Indies and their batsmen. It allows their free flowing and big hitting abilities to flow, and when it does flow it is difficult to stop. Up top, Chris Gayle will be looked upon to give them a solid start. Conditions are not alienated to him as he has experience from his BPL days of playing in Bangladesh. His only worry will be his own form prior to the tournament.
The middle order consistent of Marlon Samuels and Simmons is a stable powerhouse. The ability to build an innings and turn up the gears can see them rollicking and piling on the runs. It would be of huge benefit knowing Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy, both of whom are very experienced in this format can play similar roles of building an innings but hitting out with tremendous force when required.
It is by no means the greatest batting unit in the tournament, but certainly one which if it gets going will be very difficult to stop.
[Sunil Narine will be key for West Indies and their chances.]
The bowling will be heavily reliant upon Sunil Narine. His variation on these surfaces will be crucial for the West Indies. Time and time again he has shown he can cause problems for most teams. The rest of the West Indies attack will mostly be supported by Dwayne Bravo, Samuels and Sammy. All of which are not specialists but can do the job if required. The seam department will most likely be led by Ravi Rampaul. It is not the finest of attacks, but much like West Indies as a team and their batting, they can not be taken for granted.
Australia have been a very consistent side although they have not gone on to pick up the trophy once. Their biggest accomplishment was beating Pakistan in the Semi Finals of the 2010 tournament in a nail bitter. They followed it up by a mediocre performance in the Final which handed England the trophy.
Of late their fast bowlers have sent shivers down South African and English spines. A brutal display has led them to two test series wins over the recent past. It won't be the same attack as we have witnessed in the Test matches recently, but a strong one nonetheless.
Mitchell Johnson with his tremendous recent form will be looking to use his extreme pace on these surfaces to cause the batsmen some serious problems. He did that very well on surfaces in India prior to the Ashes, of course which sparked his reemergence. He will be well assisted by Mitchel Starc, a tall quick bowler with a very good ability to bowl yorkers at will.
They have plenty of All-rounder options including Shane Watson, Faulkner & Dan Christian. The spin bowling is also very experienced hands, Bradd Hogg of which will mostly likely play. Glenn Maxwell provides himself as a part time option also.
The batting will be heavily reliant on George Bailey and Bradd Hodge although they can turn to their All-round options and Cameron White at will if need to play powerful knocks to provide big or chase totals.
It's a well balanced and strong side, who will be looking to pick up their first World Cup, under the calm leadership of Bailey.
South Africa have not progressed so well in this format since it was introduced. They were not of to the greatest of starts in the first edition of the world cup being knocked out in the Super 8 stage, but gradually moved forward in the next edition. Making it to the Semi Finals was the greatest of their achievements, but they were beaten by a rampant Pakistan side who went on to win the World Cup in 2009. Since that Semi Final appearance they have not made it past the Super 8 stage again. Something they will of course be looking to change.
The absence of Kallis will be a huge loss for them. His experience at the top and ability to hold the innings will be missed. His bowling was another crucial part to the South African team, offering them more than enough and a good wicket taking option. With Kallis gone it will be more than likely to see Hashim Amla fill in his role of keeping a steady innings.
They will be hoping their versatile batting unit will click, which if it does is a serious force to be reckoned with. A devastating middle order of Faf Du Plessis, De Villiers and Duminy will be aided by some late order bashing of Miller and Albie Morkel, if of course all goes to plan.
South Africa's main concern funnily enough like many sides will also be upon their bowling. Rather surprisingly for such a consistent and strong pace bowling attack, they have never been able to deliver in this format as they may have wanted. Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Tsotsobe provide a stern test for any opposition in the Test arena, but this format is more about the batsmen looking to be more aggressive and taking the attack to these guys. The due factor also plays a key part in Asian conditions and may be a cause for concern at some stages for South Africa. Sub-Continental surfaces will offer nothing much to the fast bowlers but will do to spinners if they can utilize conditions. Something South Africa will be looking to turn to Imran Tahir for, who hasn't been their number one option and overlooked many times. Other than him a bleak spin department only consists of part time options from Duminy and Phangiso if given the chance.
South Africa may not have the greatest of teams for these conditions, but will certainly be looking to pick up their first ever major Trophy by getting past those dreaded Semis.
Other than 2007, New Zealand have not really produced a good enough display to be considered serious contenders. Reaching the Semi Finals in 2007 was the closest they got to looking at the Trophy. Since then, thrice were they knocked out from the tournament at the Super 8 stage.
This New Zealand side look another side in comparison to their other teams. A mixture of solid and explosive batting in tandem with a good bowling and great fielding side of things makes for a fearsome opponent. Their captain and leading run scorer in this format, Brendon McCullum comes in on top of a great few series with the bat. He has shown with his phenomenal hitting ability he has the capability to produce a calm display if required. Alongside he will be well aided by Kane Willamson, Martin Guptil and Ross Taylor. All of which provide great balance due to their very good ability of playing spin bowling so well.
Corey Anderson, a new find for New Zealand will be looking to showcase his talents. A clean hitter of the ball has not yet shined with the bat in this format but will be looking to do so here in Bangladesh.
With the ball, they seem a well balanced side. McClenaghan, Kyle Mills and Trent Boult provide the foundations for a good seam bowling department. Other than that they have the guile of Nathan McCullum & Ronnie Hira in the spin bowling department. If need be they can also turn to the very capable Kane Willamson to provide a few solid overs.
New Zealand enter as dark horses for many, but with the well balanced squad they have, they will be looking to go a lot further than they previously have.
England's poor recent form and problems within the camp is how England will enter the arena. A side still looking to find the right balance. The opening partnership of Lumb and Hales is what England will be looking to provide a platform to what seems an unstable middle order.
Eoin Morgan will look to provide stability up top if required or bat down the order as a hitter if need be. Hitting options are there for England in the likes of Luke Wright and Jos Buttler.
England's biggest concern will be their bowling. Apart from Stuart Broad they don't really have a world class option to turn to. Tim Bresnan and Jade Dernbach have plenty of experience between them but not the greatest of stats and have proven to be plenty expensive in numerous campaigns.
Dernbach with an economy of 8.52 and Bresnan with one of 7.86 will have to be at the top of their games. These surfaces won't provide much assistance and the shortish boundaries will not aid them. Dernbach's variations may be key to his success but as has been his biggest issue, he tends to over do his set of skills.
A lot of England's bowling hopes will be pinned on James Tredwell. He has been around the England camp a very long time and only really got his chance once Graeme Swann announced his retirement from International Cricket. Swann, England's second leading wicket taker in the format will be missed. Tredwell is not the greatest turner of the ball, but has enough control and skill to keep a decent amount of control on things. With the stiff nature of the tracks the further into the tournament [If England were to progress] would Tredwell be brought into play. Being England's only spin option he will have a hefty task.
England are not heading into the tournaments as favorites, but nor were they when they picked up the World Cup 2010. Something which they will look upon with great confidence.
Before we can begin the Super 10 stage we have a round of another 8 teams fighting it out to see who will join the other 8. The top team from either group of course will make it and fit into groups in the super 10 stage.
Group A: Afghanistan showed just why they will be a threat in this format and must not be taken lightly in their qualification round. With their bowling attack they stifled the Bangladeshi batsmen during their game in the Asia Cup and produced a magnificent performance which allowed them to comfortably beat Bangladesh, lest we forget when they had Pakistan on the ropes but for some Umar Akmal heroics. The T20 format may just be the ideal platform for them to go on and cause a few more upsets, one of which would be to win their qualifying group and beat Bangladesh again. With their bowling, this format will allow their batsmen to flourish. Of course nobody expects them to take the trophy back to Kabul or possibly even qualify, but this will be a great experience for the Afghan boys right after their Asia cup campaign.
Bangladesh on the other hand will want to bounce back in-front of an enthusiastic and passionate home crowd. An Asia cup which started poorly with loses to India & a surprise defeat to Afghanistan caused huge criticism of the teams attitude, performance and character. The fans were not pleased with the loses to Pakistan and Sri Lanka either but would take heart from the commitment which was shown in those games. The game with Pakistan was a tight affair and a late Afridi blitz settled that. Against Sri Lanka it wasn't the greatest of batting displays, but their bowling ran Sri Lanka very close.
Bangladesh will use the momentum gained from those last two games and the home advantage to produce a better all-round display. With the BPL a lot of the Bangladeshi players have experience in this format and will feel more comfortable adapting to the style of play.
Before dreaming of a World Cup win, they know they have their work cut out to qualify and beat an Afghan side which will be confident after beating Bangladesh in another format on their home soil. It will prove to be a simple group one would expect with the likes of Hong Kong and Nepal only providing the other competition. The group and final spot will more than likely be decided by Bangladesh vs Afghanistan. In what proves to be a very interesting encounter.
Group B: Ireland will be looking to firm-en their grip on International Cricket by qualifying for the Super 10. They have the experience within their ranks to overcome for them what will be stern tests of Netherlands and Zimbabwe.
A mixture of strong batting and a closely nit bowling unit will look to hit the other teams hard. It may well be a tough test of their character as they will probably be heading into this group as favorites.
Zimbabwe unlike Ireland will want to keep a hold of their grip in International Cricket. They may not be a side they once were but certainly possess enough within beat the other teams and challenge for top spot in the qualifying round. The batting unit they possess will be the key for them.
Netherlands and the UAE will use this as an experience more than anything. No one really expects them to challenge much, but the idea of playing in the Super 10 against the best teams might just boost their spirits.
It promises to be a fantastic tournament with so many closely matched teams. It should be quick and played with high tempo. It's only a matter of hours now before it all kicks of!
A look ahead to the T20 World Cup
A look ahead to the T20 World Cup