New Delhi: International T20 cricket, struggling to gain a firm footing despite the growing popularity of domestic leagues, will break new ground when the fifth World Twenty20 opens in Bangladesh on Sunday. Tests and one-dayers take precedence over T20 internationals even as successful competitions like the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Australia's Big Bash mushroom around the world.
India, cricket's financial superpower, whose victory in the inaugural World T20 in 2007 sparked the IPL revolution, has played just one international in the shortest version over the last 15 months. World cricket chiefs, hoping to spread the game to newer pastures through Twenty20, have expanded the upcoming tournament to 16 teams from 12 two years ago and introduced a new format. (Also read: Michael Vaughan tips India, West Indies as favourites)
Six qualifiers -- Ireland, Afghanistan, Nepal, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands -- will join Zimbabwe and hosts Bangladesh in a preliminary league of two groups from March 16 to 21.