Howzat – Twenty20 cricket World Cup hots up


The biggest spectator sport in Asia has got underway in India with Phase Two of the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup competition. The tournament began on 8 March, and will run until 3 April, when the winner of the intensely fought over cricket competition will be crowned.

Although the sound of leather upon willow will be part of the experience for cricket fans, Twenty20 cricket is played at a breakneck pace, unlike traditional cricket. Games are condensed into 20 overs for each side which forces teams to adopt a gung-ho approach to pile on as many runs as they can from the very start. There can be no margin for ‘safety first’ shots as time is so limited.

So-called ‘slogging’ – taking risks to bash the cricket ball as far as possible to ‘hit a six’ – is positively encouraged in Twenty20.

This quicker pace and simplified process has made Twenty20, or T20 as it is often called, a certified hit especially among younger generations and sports sponsors and advertisers.

Advertising revenues for the 2016 world contest are set to hit Rupees 300bn ($40 million) within India alone, as the 19 sponsors, which include big names such as Nissan and Indian ecommerce giant Flipkart, vie to push their products and services during India’s great sporting event. The Indian TV network Star is set to benefit from these bumper ad revenues, as the competition’s official broadcaster.

A total of 16 teams from around the world have taken to to the usually browner pitches of the Indian sub-continent to bat and bowl their way to glory. As the first phase of the competition fades away, six of the less established cricketing countries have had to pack their bags and go home already. They were Scotland, Ireland, The Netherlands, Oman, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong.

Bangladesh, where cricket is followed with a passion bordering upon obsession, survived Phase One to go through to the next stage alongside the big surprise package of the contest so far – Afghanistan.

Bangladesh and Afghanistan will now join the more established cricketing nations for Phase Two – Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, hosts India, and their longtime rivals Pakistan, to settle the score for the T20 cricketing crown.

First out to bat will be India and New Zealand who take to the field at 19:30 Indian Standard Time (14:00 GMT) at the Vidarbha Cricket Association in Stadium in Nagpur, in the heart of India, on Tuesday, 15 March.

The big clash, always much awaited,  comes on  Saturday when  India meets Pakistan in Kolkata for the ultimate grudge match. Widely seen as one of the world’s greatest sporting rivalries, it is estimated that any India-Pakistan cricket match will attract up to 1 billion viewers.

Since the World Twenty20 tournament began in 2007, India and Pakistan have gone head to head 11 times. India has won 7 – once in the Twenty20 final in 2007 – and Pakistan has won 3 times, and they have drawn once.

The fans of the two great cricketing nations will square off in a display of national colours and flags. Pakistan’s supporters are clad in green and white, and India’s decked vibrantly in green, white, and orange will fill the Eden Gardens stadium with an almighty roar of patriotic fervour.

The Twenty20 World Cup is not a knockout competition however so the winner of the India-Pakistan match will not necessarily have disposed of their rival. Other matches and fixtures will continue, and the tournament victor will be decided once these are complete. The winner is decided by the number of points, and in the event of a tie, continues to three more assessment criteria until a head-to-head meeting which will decide the victor.

India remains the favourite at this stage to win the Cup.


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