The 4th ICC World T20 Championship is set to kick off in less than 10 days. This time, in 2012, it will be held in Sri Lanka, after a successful 2010 Caribbean edition. The shortest version of the game has fast proven to be the most popular version ever since it began officially back in 2007, thanks to relentless domestic editions like the IPL, KFC T20, and the Championships in England and West Indies. Now with the SLPL, the hype has reached an all-time high, with T20s now being the preferred format even by the viewers, as compared to ODI cricket.

The 2010 edition in West Indies, was interesting, to say the least. For many reasons, not least because it took place just 10 months after the previous World Cup in Bangladesh- where Pakistan romped to the title. They were allowed to rule the world for just 10 months, though.The 2010 World Cup marked the rise and fall of great rivals- in the form of England and Australia. England, who won the final by 7 wickets, went on to soon take over the no. 1 ranking in Tests next year, and in ODIs soon after that. It all started with this World Cup, where they barely squeaked into the Super 8s after losing to West Indies in the league stages.Then they won all their 3 Super 8 games, beating Pakistan, NZ and South Africa. They went on to beat favorites Sri Lanka in the semis, before disposing off surprise finalists Australia in the final.

The difference between the 2010 and 2012 editions will be one major factor- Kevin Pieterson, the man who took England to the title in 2010, will not be part of this tournament. By default, England will not be (mentally or competitively) part of this tournament. They may have to go back to the 2009 days where they lost to the Netherlands in their Group Stages. This could only mean good things for India, who find themselves with the defending Champions in Group A. Underdogs (impressive, at that) Afghanistan will be the regular single minnow in this group.

Group B will see currently-bottom-placed (yes, you heard right) Australia with FAVORITES West Indies (who are beyond intimidating in this format), and perennial upset-causers Ireland.

Group C will see consistent contenders Sri Lanka and South Africa group paired with surprise package Zimbabwe, who have caused a few recent upsets in this format last year.

Finally, Group D will see the very dangerous Pakistan (on spinning pitches), paired with the equally dangerous Bangladesh and New Zealand, in that order of threat. The first match of the World Cup will take place at Hambantota on September 18th, between Home team Sri Lanka and their favorite whipping boys, Zimbabwe.

Most experts bet for this 2012 World Cup, which comes at the height of Test Season, with no ODIs to go for the rest of the year- remain the extremely erratic West Indian team. But, taking into consideration the pitches of Sri Lanka, you’d have to say that the side with the best bowling attack will be favorites. And only one team can lay claim to this, without dispute- Pakistan.

Rahul Desai

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