So, we have yet another World event for cricket's top nations. From 2009, each year, International Cricket Council (ICC) had scheduled a global tournament. Unlike other sports where fans eagerly wait every four years for a World Cup, cricket thrusts upon its fans, a World Cup every calendar year.
World T20 Schedule; Group-wise previews: Group A; Group B; Group C; Group D
Can you imagine this in any other sport?
In 2007, we had the ICC Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean, soon ICC Champions Trophy arrived in 2009 (originally it was fixed for 2008 in Pakistan but security reasons forced ICC to postpone and move the tournament to South Africa).
Same 2009 year saw World T20 in England (so two world events in one calendar year). In 2010, World T20 returned, this time to the Caribbean. 2011 was the year of 50-over World Cup. Now, 17 months after the World Cup final in Mumbai on April 2, we have another World Cup in a different format and in a new venue.
September 18 will mark the beginning of the fourth edition of ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. When T20 was first introduced in England few years back, it was dismissed by many as not a serious affair. But ICC was forced to embrace the format soon and launched a world tournament.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had its reservations over the shortest version and in 2007 sent a young team for the inaugural bash. But MS Dhoni-led boys stunned everyone to bring home the trophy.
Today, T20 has grown so much that it threatens the existence of One Day Internationals and Tests.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) has grown so much that players all over the world crave to be a part of the cash-rich extravaganza.
Now, let us come back to this tournament in Sri Lanka. The Island nation is set to host its first World T20. It will be the second successive high-profile event after last year's World Cup where the hosts reached final.
12 teams, including two qualifiers (Afghanistan and Ireland) will battle for glory till one of them secures the trophy on October 7 in Colombo.
Many experts feel this is the most open World T20. But some have installed West Indies as favourites while others back subcontinent giants India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to triumph.
It should be exciting over the next three weeks in Sri Lanka.
Fans at the stadiums, and millions on TV, are looking forward to big hits sailing into the stands. But it is not only about the bats' domination. There are plenty of bowlers who are capable of silencing those willows.
Chris Gayle, David Warner, Shane Watson, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Kieron Pollard and their ilk wait to knock the leather off while wily spinners like Saeed Ajmal, Sunil Narine, R Ashwin, Ajantha Mendis, Brad Hogg and company will be confident of restricting the batsmen. People like Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Steven Finn, Lasith Malinga and the rest of fast bowlers will bring joy with their pace.
There are four groups with three teams each. The top two from each pool enter Super Eight stage where they are again divided into two of four apiece. Then two each from Group 1 and 2 make the semi-finals.
If things go according to plan, India and Pakistan are clubbed together in Group 2 of Super Eight. And they are slated to face off again in semi-finals. That is how the draw is made, but we have to wait and watch how far they progress.
Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe will open the tournament on Tuesday in a night game (7.30 PM IST) in Hambantota.
In past three editions, we have had three different champions. Who will it be this time?
Group A: England (A1); India (A2); Afghanistan (Q2)
Group B: Australia (B1); West Indies (B2); Ireland (Q1)
Group C: Sri Lanka (C1); South Africa (C2); Zimbabwe
Group D: Pakistan (D1); New Zealand (D2); Bangladesh
Super Eight (S8) Groups
Group 1: A1, B2, C1, D2
Group 2: A2, B1, C2, D1
Third and fourth: $250,000 each
Winner of Super 8 matches: $42,000 to the winner of each match
Winner of group stage matches: $20,500 to the winner of each match