Cricket - ICC World T20 launch
Twenty20 vision: (left) Geoff Allardice, Acting Chief Executive of ICC, Jay Shah and Sourav Ganguly, secretary and president of BCCI and Pankaj Khimji, Oman Cricket chairman pose with the T20 World Cup trophy at Muscat on Friday. Image Credit: ICC

Kolkata: A battle of the arch rivals, India and Pakistan, in the group stages of T20 World Cup in the UAE looks a certainty as they have been clubbed together in the same group as the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the groupings for the marquee event on Friday.

The groups, selected on the basis of team rankings as of March 20, 2021, have defending champions the West Indies pooled along with former champions England, Australia and South Africa in Group 1 of the Super 12s with two qualifiers from Round 1 joining them. The Round 1 of the tournament, which will determine the four qualifiers for tournament proper, will be held at Oman Cricket Academy Ground in Muscat.

Group 2 will comprise former champions India and Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan and the other two qualifiers from Round 1 - which ensures at least one India-Pakistan match - a regular feature in all the major ICC tournaments in the recent past including the 2019 ICC World Cup in England.

The qualifying tournament, which will get underway in Muscat from October 17, will also witness some quality competition. Eight teams in the fray there include automatic qualifiers Sri Lanka, the 2014 World T20 champions, and Bangladesh along with the remaining six who booked their spot through the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019. Ireland, Netherlands and Namibia join Sri Lanka in Group A whilst Oman, PNG and Scotland will face Bangladesh in Group B.

A high powered delegation of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the official hosts of the tournament, along with the top brass of ICC, are on a visit to Muscat on Friday - the scenic neighbouring country of the UAE - for a first hand recce of the facilities.

Sourav Ganguly, former Indian skipper and BCCI president, said in a statement: “It is good to get Oman in the frame of world cricket with the hosting of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. It will help a lot of young players take an interest in the game. We know it will be a world class event in this part of the world.”

It is good to get Oman in the frame of world cricket with the hosting of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. It will help a lot of young players take an interest in the game. We know it will be a world class event in this part of the world

- Sourav Ganguly, BCCI President

Jay Shah, the BCCI secretary, said: “With the announcement of groupings, our countdown for the ICC T20 World Cup kickstarts. There is nothing that separates the two groups as both are packed with sides that are highly competitive in the shortest format of the game. Having said that, the exciting T20 format is known for its surprises, and we must be prepared for the same. I am sure we will witness some exciting and nail-biting games

“I am particularly delighted to be in Oman. As a major force in world cricket, the BCCI has always endeavoured to promote and assist Associate Nations. In my capacity as Asian Cricket Council President, my vision is to take cricket far and deep into Asia. Cohosting the World Cup will put Oman Cricket on the global stage. They are also playing the Qualifiers and it will be an icing on the cake if they make it to the Super 12s.”

Pankaj Khimji, Oman Cricket Chairman. said: “Oman Cricket has come a long way and today is a watershed moment for us to have ICC and BCCI here at Oman Cricket Academy to announce the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup groups.’’

Khalid Al Zarooni, Vice President of Emirates Cricket Board, said: “Understanding the current sporting climate in such unprecedented times, Emirates Cricket congratulates the ICC, the BCCI and the respective teams on today’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 groupings’ announcement.

The venues for the tournament are Dubai International Stadium, Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah Stadium and the Oman Cricket Academy Ground. The tournament schedule, to be held from October 17 to November 14, will be announced in due course.


Round 1 (In Oman)

Group A: Sri Lanka, Ireland, the Netherlands and Namibia

Group B: Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Oman

Super 12s (In UAE)

Group 1: England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, A1 and B2.

Group 2: India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, A2 and B1.