Afghanistan’s incredible rise to competing against the elite of world cricket is one of sport’s most compelling underdog stories. However faced with a tricky group containing defending champions England and cricketing superpower India, they will have a difficult time progressing to the Super 8s.
World Twenty20 history: DNQ (2007, 2009), Round 1 (2010)
Fixtures: 19 September vs India, 21 September vs England
Star Man: Mohammad Shahzad (pictured) – The first Afghan to score a first-class double century with his 214* against Canada in February, the wicket-keeper batsman is the standout run-maker in his side and Afghanistan’s undeniable star with the bat.
One to watch: Hamid Hassan – The ‘Afghan Bullet’ has overcome a knee injury to make the final squad and his side will hope their star fast bowler can produce his best form. With 24 wickets in his 14 ODIs at an impressive average of 21.91, a fully fit Hassan will be a real threat to opposition batsman.
Squad: Nawroz Mangal (capt), Dawlat Zadran, Gulbodin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Izatullah Dawlatzai, Karim Sadiq, Javed Ahmadi, Mohammad Nasim Baras, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Asghar Stanikzai, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah, Shapoor Zadran
For so long Australia were the unstoppable force in world cricket but times have changed and they now find themselves going through a period of transition. Despite this it is always perilous to write off any Australian side and given their relatively easy group, their progress to the later rounds looks fairly assured.
World Twenty20 history: Semi-final (2007), Round 1 (2009), Runners-up (2010)
Fixtures: 19 September vs Ireland, 22 September vs West Indies
Star Man: David Hussey – So often overshadowed by the achievements of his brother, Michael, the younger Hussey is nonetheless the leading run-scorer in Twenty20 history and Australia will look to build their batting around his huge experience in this format.
One to watch: Glenn Maxwell (pictured) – An off-spinning all-rounder, Glenn Maxwell’s powerful hitting has seen him earn a place in Australia’s squad and he is being hailed by their national press as a real star of the future. His match-winning 56* from just 38 balls in his debut ODI series against Pakistan this month has added some weight to their claims.
Squad: George Bailey (capt), Dan Christian, Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hogg, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.
The occasional shock victory aside, Bangladesh have not developed into the cricketing force that many hoped they would be by now. Faced with Pakistan and New Zealand in the group stages they will do well to make the Super 8s.
World Twenty20 history: Super 8 (2007), Round 1 (2009, 2010)
Fixtures: 21 September vs New Zealand, 25 September vs Pakistan
Star Man: Shakib Al Hasan (pictured) – The best cricketer Bangladesh have ever produced and at one time the leading all-rounder in one-day cricket, Shakib Al Hasan will shoulder much of the responsibility for his sides success with both bat and ball.
One to watch: Tamim Iqbal – The opening batsman is one of his side’s most exciting young talents and arguably the hardest striker of a cricket ball in the country. With a strike rate of over 100, the powerful left-hander can be a destructive force at the top of the order.
Squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (capt), Mahmudullah, Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraful, Junaid Siddique, Jahurul Islam, Shakib Al Hasan, Nasir Hossain, Ziaur Rahman, Elias Sunny, Abdur Razzak, Mashrafe Mortaza, Shafiul Islam, Farhad Reza, Abul Hasan.
Defending champions England go into the tournament surely still haunted by the ghost of Kevin Pietersen and whatever his negative effect on team spirit they will undoubtedly miss his batting prowess. However with a good mix of experience and exciting young talent in their squad, they should at least be able to mount a reasonable defence of their crown.
World Twenty20 history: Super 8 (2007, 2009), Champions (2010)
Fixtures: 21 September vs Afghanistan, 23 September vs India
Star Man: Eoin Morgan – Despite failing to cement a place in England’s test side, Morgan has shown himself to be a master of the shorter forms of the game. With the much publicised absence of Kevin Pietersen, lots of responsibility for England’s batting will fall onto his shoulders.
One to watch: Alex Hales (pictured) – Tasked with replacing KP at the top of the order, the youngster has impressed so far in his limited T20 international career. With a top score of 99 and a strike rate of 121.71, he is a danger at the top of the order.
Squad: Stuart Broad (capt), Jonny Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Butler, Jade Dembach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Michael Lumb, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright
No country has taken to T20 cricket quite like India and they will be hoping to delight a passionate nation by winning the prize they won in 2007. With a team full of stars and in conditions they favour, they must surely be real contenders.
World Twenty20 history: Champions (2007), Super 8 (2009, 2010)
Fixtures: 19 September vs Afghanistan, 23 September vs England
Star Man: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (pictured) – It is almost impossible to pick an individual out of India’s stellar line-up, but their ice-cool captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s importance cannot be understated. Seemingly able to cope with the expectations of billions of fans, Dhoni’s combination of explosive hitting and calmness under pressure is one of India’s biggest weapons.
One to watch: Virender Sehwag – By no means a new face on the scene, Sehwag is simply India’s most destructive batsman and with the ability to take a bowling attack apart in the opening overs, his innings are not to be missed.
Squad: Ravichandran Ashwin, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Piyush Chawla, Mahendra Dhoni (capt & wk), Ashok Dinda, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Manoj Tiwary.
Despite often losing their brightest talents to the lure of test cricket in England, Ireland have been enthusiastic if not always hugely successful participants in T20 cricket. They will do well to get out of a group containing Australia and the West Indies.
World Twenty20 history: DNQ (2007), Super 8 (2009), Round 1 (2010)
Fixtures: 19 September vs Australia, 24 September vs West Indies
Star Man: Kevin O’Brien (pictured) – Following in the footsteps of other badly coiffured cricketing Kevins, O’Brien famously hit the fastest World Cup century against England in 2011 with dyed pink hair. His powerful middle-order hitting can be a real weapon for Ireland.
One to watch: George Dockrell – Still only 20, Dockrell has been playing cricket for Ireland for over three years and is undoubtedly their finest prospect. His left-arm spin could prove tricky on the helpful Sri Lankan wickets.
Squad: William Porterfield (capt), Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, Ed Joyce, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Max Sorensen, Stuart Thompson, Andrew White, Gary Wilson.
Consistently competitive in the shorter forms of the game, New Zealand usually always provide stern opposition. However a lack of real strength in depth means they are unlikely to challenge for the title.
World Twenty20 history: Semi-final (2007), Super 8 (2009, 2010)
Fixtures: 21 September vs Bangladesh, 23 September vs Pakistan
Star Man: Brendon McCullum (pictured) – His 158* opened the inaugural IPL in style back in 2008 and since then McCullum has often showcased his devastating ability with the bat. With the continued absence of Jesse Ryder, there is an even greater onus on McCullum to perform.
One to watch Daniel Vettori: – The New Zealand veteran has come out of T20 retirement for this tournament and his masterful spin bowling in helpful conditions as well as useful lower order batting should ensure it is a welcome return to the fold for the former skipper.
Squad: Martin Guptill, Rob Nicol, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor (capt), Kane Williamson, BJ Watling, James Franklin, Jacob Oram, Nathan McCullum, Daniel Vettori, Kyle Mills, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Ronnie Hira, Adam Milne.
Despite often being labeled as an inconsistent side, Pakistan have been the most successful side in World T20 history, narrowly losing the first final, winning the second and making the semi-finals in 2010. They will surely challenge strongly for the trophy once again this year.
World Twenty20 history: Runners-up (2007), Champions (2009), Semi-final (2010)
Fixtures: 23 September vs New Zealand, 25 September vs Bangladesh
Star Man: Umar Gul (pictured) – The first player to take five wickets in a T20 innings with his unbelievable 5 for 6 against New Zealand in 2009, Gul has established himself as one of the format’s deadliest bowlers.
One to watch: Shahid Afridi – Another household name, Afridi has earnt his nickname ‘Boom Boom’ for good reason and his devastating if reckless hitting is seemingly tailor made for T20 cricket. He is also extremely useful with the ball as shown by the fact that he is the leading wicket taker in international T20 history.
Squad: Abdul Razzaq, Asad Shafiq, Imran Nazir, Kamran Akmal (wk), Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Mohammad Sami, Nasir Jamshed, Raza Hasan, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Yasir Arafat
Twice semi-finalists in 2007 and 2009, South Africa will be hoping to improve on that and finish off their impressive year in style. Their group clash against hosts Sri Lanka looks set to be a great game.
World Twenty20 history: Semi-final (2007, 2009), Super 8 (2010)
Fixtures: 20 September vs Zimbabwe, 22 September vs Sri Lanka
Star Man: Jacques Kallis – Established as one of the greatest all-rounders in cricket history, Kallis, who was the highest-scoring South African in this year’s IPL, provides a reliable presence for the Proteas with both bat and ball.
One to watch: Richard Levi (pictured) – The hard-hitting youngster burst onto the scene in February this year when his 117* against New Zealand wrote him into the history books. The knock set a new record for the most amount of sixes in an innings (13) as well as being the fastest T20 century (45 balls), it also tied Chris Gayle’s record T20 international score. While Levi is inexperienced at international level, if he can replicate that sort of form he will be a devastating weapon for South Africa.
Squad: Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Johan Botha, AB de Villiers (capt & wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis, Richard Levi, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Justin Ontong, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Hosts Sri Lanka have an excellent record in this form of the game and will surely be serious contenders in favourable and familiar conditions.
World Twenty20 history: Super 8 (2007), Runners-up (2009), Semi-final (2010)
Fixtures: 18 September vs Zimbabwe, 22 September vs South Africa
Star Man: Lasith Malinga (pictured) – His trademark slingy action has bamboozled opponents ever since he emerged onto the scene and he remains one of the games most devastating bowlers. He is undoubtedly Sri Lanka’s main weapon with the ball.
One to watch Angelo Mathews: – Tipped as a future captain, Mathews’ ability with bat and ball as well as his fantastic fielding skills, make him a key performer for Sri Lanka.
Squad: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Angelo Mathews, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Jeevan Mendis, Dilshan Munaweera, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Shaminda Eranga, Akhila Dhananjaya.
The financial rewards on offer in the IPL have undoubtedly damaged the West Indies cricket team in other formats of the game, but in the T20 game they should benefit from the experience many of their players have gained.
World Twenty20 history: Round 1 (2007), Semi-final (2009), Super 8 (2010)
Fixtures: 22 September vs Australia, 24 September vs Ireland
Star Man: Chris Gayle (pictured) – Arguably world cricket’s most devastating batsman and undeniably the coolest, Gayle has an unbelievable average of 44.19 in T20 cricket and he has struck 290 sixes in 110 games. He is the scalp opposition teams prize most and a lethal force at the top of the order.
One to watch: Sunil Narine – The second highest wicket taker in this year’s IPL, Narine’s spin helped the Kolkata Knight Riders to the title. Although relatively untried at international level, he should be a real danger in favourable conditions.
Squad: Darren Sammy (capt), Dwayne Bravo, Samuel Badree, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.
Up against hosts Sri Lanka and more successful neighbours South Africa, Zimbabwe look like facing a stern challenge if they are to progress to the Super 8 stage of the tournament.
World Twenty20 history: Round 1 (2007, 2010) DNQ (2009)
Fixtures: 18 September vs Sri Lanka, 20 September vs South Africa
Star Man: Elton Chigumbura (pictured) – Zimbabwe’s most prolific T20 international with both bat and ball, his importance to his side cannot be understated.
One to watch: Richard Muzhange – The uncapped 21-year-old is a talented athlete, having represented Zimbabwe at junior levels in both javelin and basketball. Whether he can make an impact with his medium pace bowling in Sri Lanka remains to be seen.
Squad: Brendan Taylor (capt), Vusi Sibanda, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Malcolm Waller, Elton Chigumbura, Craig Ervine, Graeme Cremer, Ray Price, Kyle Jarvis, Chris Mpofu, Richard Muzhange, Brian Vitori, Prosper Utseya, Forster Mutizwa.