By Alex Glover – reporter
Last week, the eyes of the cricketing world turned to India, as the 6th edition of the ICC (International Cricket Council) World Twenty20 began.
The tournament has been a breath of fresh air to the international cricket calendar with its shorter format and quicker paced matches attracting whole new audiences to the sport.
Being in the top eight of the ICC world rankings means heavyweights England, India, Australia and South Africa have already qualified for the Super 10 phase alongside New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and West Indies.
The teams outside of the top eight have been split into two groups and will subsequently battle it out for the remaining two spots.
Bangladesh and Zimbabwe look favorites to reach the Super 10 but both Ireland and Scotland will be hoping to cause upsets, whilst an honorable mention must be given to Oman who are playing in their first ICC event.
The tournament then explodes into life when the big teams arrive, joined by the qualifiers, as the Super 10 do battle in two groups.
Group one so far contains current holders Sri Lanka, 2009 winners England, South Africa and West Indies.
In 2014, Sri Lanka were guided to victory by old stalwarts Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene but with both now retired they face an uphill challenge to retain the crown this time around.
England’s resurgence in limited-overs cricket under new coach Trevor Bayliss was halted on their recent tour of South Africa as they lost the ODI (One Day International) series 3-2.
The scars from that tour won’t have long to heal as they face South Africa in their 2nd game after starting the campaign against West Indies in Mumbai.
Captain Eoin Morgan will be looking for specialist T20 batsmen Alex Hales, Jason Roy and Jos Buttler to continue the form they have shown so far this winter.
England know that the quality of spin bowling can be the difference between winning and losing a match during Indian conditions – they have three in their 15-man squad.
Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali are both tried and trusted options at this level and will definitely play whilst England have a third option in uncapped mystery spinner Liam Dawson.
South Africa are considered international cricket’s biggest mystery, harshly labeled ‘chokers’ by many, a reference of their inability to reach major finals over the years.
Time and time again the Proteas have been tipped to win ICC tournaments.
They’ve boasted some exceptionally talented squads over the years yet consistently failed to get over the line.
A trend of peculiar, heartbreaking semi-final defeats continued at last year’s 50-over World Cup.
Group two will see some tasty clashes with hosts India, Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan all set to do battle.
As the host nation India know they will be under huge pressure to succeed.
Captain MS Dhoni will be confident his side can cope and will be hoping to use the experience gained when they won the 2011 50-over World Cup on home soil.
The ever-competitive Australia come into the tournament on the back of a 3-0 T20 series defeat at home to India in January.
However with the firepower of Dave Warner, Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja in their batting lineup, they still have to be considered real contenders.
New Zealand and Pakistan are both dangerous sides on their day but both nations face a struggle to make it out of the group due to the sheer class of the Indians and Australians.
When it comes to picking a winner, it would take a brave man to bet against India in their own backyard but that’s exactly what I’m doing.
I think that South Africa spearheaded by AB De Villiers’ batting and young seamer Kagiso Rabada, will finally break their duck and win an ICC event at long last.