There are a busy two months of cricket ahead for ICC World T20 participants as preparations ramp up for the 6th edition of the ICC World Twenty20 which begins in India on March 8 2016
With just two months left for the ICC World Twenty20 2016 in India, the cricket world is gearing up for an exciting period of action filled with plenty of International cricket across the world and a real focus on Twenty20 international cricket.
All 16 participating teams are in a phase where they're winding up their preparations for the T20 extravaganza. Test and One-Day International cricket continues across the world, but given the close proximity to the premier T20I tournament, many countries are laying special emphasis on the shorter format.
The World No. 1 and defending ICC World Twenty20 champion, Sri Lanka, is in the final phase of its New Zealand tour. The Test and One-Day International series didn't go its way, and it narrowly lost the first T20I, but will look to end the tour on a high in the second and final T20I in Auckland on Sunday (January 10).
Following the New Zealand tour, Sri Lanka will head home for a break after which it will travel to India, the venue for the World T20, for a three-match T20I series in February. That's not all. Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and one ICC Associate Member, who will be determined through a qualifier, will clash in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh ahead of the ICC World T20.
The qualifier for the Asia Cup, also in Bangladesh, will feature Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Oman and United Arab Emirates.
It will be the 13th edition of the Asia Cup, but the first time it's played in the T20 format in a move to aid the teams' preparations for the ICC World Twenty20.
The West Indies, the champions of the 2012 edition and No. 2 in the ICC T20I rankings, does not have any international fixtures ahead of the event in India scheduled as of now, but a number of its players are participating in the Big Bash League to keep themselves in tune with the format. The West Indies, who just completed a three-Test series in Australia, was in good form in the T20 format in 2015, winning three of its five matches.
Australia has an exciting few months of cricket coming up as it takes on top teams in different formats. Australia, the No. 3 side, played just one T20I in 2015 (which it lost to England), but has as many as nine matches scheduled ahead of the mega event in India. It will first take on India at home for a three-match series that will follow a five-match ODI series and then travel to South Africa for another three-match T20I series. The last of the three T20Is is on March 9, just four days before Australia's ICC World T20 warm-up clash against the West Indies.
Between the two series, Australia will travel to New Zealand for three ODIs and two Tests.
England, the champion in 2010 and one of the most improved sides in the shorter formats over the last year, is in the midst of a two-month-long tour of South Africa. Currently leading the four-Test series 1-0 after two games, England will play five ODIs and two T20Is with the home side after the Tests. England has been in stunning form in the shortest format in recent times, having won all five matches they played in 2015.
Pakistan, the champion of the 2009 World T20 will tour New Zealand for three T20Is and three ODIs from January 15 to January 31. Its players will feature in the inaugural edition of the Pakistan Super League from February 4 to February 23 in UAE, as well as taking part in the Asia Cup.
Pakistan is another side in good form in the format after winning six of its 10 matches last year.
India played four Twenty20 International matches in 2015 and lost three, which included a home series loss to South Africa in October. The champion of the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007 will, however, have a number of opportunities to correct that record, with the Australia tour, home series against Sri Lanka and the Asia Cup lined up over the next two months.
Bangladesh too will have a busy home season, with four T20Is lined up against Zimbabwe in January before the Asia Cup.
But it's not just the Full Members who will be busy with preparations. Afghanistan, fresh after its second ODI series win against Zimbabwe that took it to the top 10 of the ICC ODI rankings, will finish the tour of UAE with two T20Is.
Later in January, Scotland will tour Hong Kong for a couple of T20Is to complement their tour which includes the ICC Intercontinental Cup clash, while Ireland do the same on their ICC Intercontinental Cup tour where they will also play Papua New Guinea in three T20Is in Australia during the first week of February. Oman will participate in the Asia Cup qualifier, aiming to be the one team that goes through to the main tournament.
The ICC World Twenty20 India 2016 will be held in India between March 8 and April 3 2016 across 8 venues around India.