New Delhi - Hosts India are favourites to clinch the sixth edition of the World Twenty20 in what could be a fairytale ending to the glittering career of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

India, ranked number one in the world, will seek to become the first side to win the International Cricket Council (ICC) title on home soil when the 16-team tournament gets under way on Tuesday. They are also gunning to become the tournament’s only two-time winners, with South Africa, Australia and the mercurial West Indies shaping as leading threats.

Australia, the top-ranked Test side, are desperate to win their first World Twenty20 crown, while Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir will play his first ICC tournament since returning from a five-year spot-fixing ban. India come into the tournament on the back of an eight-wicket win over Bangladesh in the Asia Cup final, and have several key batsmen and bowlers in form. “We are on track for the World T20,” a confident Dhoni said after Sunday’s victory.

India’s hot streak of 10 wins from their last 11 T20 internationals, coupled with their vast and boisterous home support means Dhoni’s men will be tough to beat. “I think India will win. Their players know the pitches and they’re playing good cricket against the best teams in the world at present,” said West Indies legend Brian Lara.

India also have added incentive to lift the trophy on April 3 at Eden Gardens in Kolkata because of the fact that the tournament may mark Dhoni’s swansong. Dhoni, who led India to the inaugural title in 2007, has struggled with the bat of late and turns 35 this summer. A second World Twenty20 crown would be a fitting end to the wicketkeeper’s career.

In-form batsman Virat Kohli and deadly off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin are expected to be the key men for India, who are hosting the championship for the first time. The home side start their campaign against New Zealand on March 15 before playing arch-rivals Pakistan in Dharamsala four days later in a hotly awaited clash.

Pakistan endured a disastrous Asia Cup, thanks largely to some atrocious batting, and any hopes they have of making an impression will rely on the performances of the controversial Amir.  The 23-year-old fast bowler was banned and jailed for deliberately sending down no-balls in a Test match against England in 2010.

But he has been in good touch since re-entering the international fold earlier this year, and lit up the Asia Cup with a devastating 3-18 spell in Pakistan’s loss to India. “The way he bowled... it didn’t look as if he was making a comeback after five long years. It was a treat to watch,” former Pakistan captain and now Afghanistan coach Inzamam-ul-Haq told AFP. Second-ranked South Africa are hoping to spoil India’s party and come into the tournament full of confidence following a T20 series whitewash against England.

The Proteas have never won the World Twenty20 but anything less than the final will be considered a failure for the Faf du Plessis-led side, who boast top run-scorers AB De Villiers and Hashim Amla and leg-spinner Imran Tahir. Defending champions Sri Lanka are a shadow of the side that won in Bangladesh two years ago and have struggled to come to terms with the void left by legends Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

The West Indies’ tilt at a second title have been hit by injury withdrawals and a bitter pay dispute with squad members arguing with the country’s board over fees to play in the tournament. Experienced batsman Darren Bravo, all-rounder Kieron Pollard and off-spinner Sunil Narine are all out but it would be unwise to write off the third-ranked Windies, especially when they boast the big-hitting Chris Gayle. The preliminary round starts on Tuesday, with Afghanistan and Bangladesh favourites to join the big eight teams in the Super 10 group stage. In Tuesday’s opening matches, Hong Kong take on Zimbabwe and Afghanistan play Scotland.

Past winners

2014 - SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka defeated India by six wickets to lift the 2014 title in Mirpur, Bangladesh, to atone for their defeat in the previous two finals and provide the perfect T20 international farewell for Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.


West Indies stunned Australia in the semi-finals and then broke the hearts of Sri Lanka in a low-scoring final. Despite scoring only a modest 137, the Windies restricted the hosts to 101 in reply before Chris Gayle led his team-mates in a celebratory ‘Gangnam Style’ dance.

2010 - ENGLAND

Player of the tournament Kevin Pietersen inspired England to their first ICC trophy in perfect fashion, defeating arch-rivals Australia in the West Indies.


A Younis Khan-led Pakistan blew Sri Lanka away in a one-sided final at Lord’s to secure their second ICC world title.

2007 - INDIA

India won a thrilling inaugural final against Pakistan by five runs when Misbah-ul-Haq failed to make the runs needed in the final over, inspiring their previously sceptical fanbase to embrace the T20 format.

Squads for the sixth edition of the mega event


Group A:

BANGLADESH: Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Abu Hider, Al-Amin Hossain, Arafat Sunny, Mahmudullah, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mustafizur Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal, Taskin Ahmed.

IRELAND: William Porterfield (captain), Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Andrew McBrine, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Andrew Poynter, Stuart Poynter, Boyd Rankin, Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.

NETHERLANDS: Peter Borren (captain), Wesley Barresi, Ahsan Malik, Mudassar Bukhari, Ben Cooper, Tom Cooper, Vivian Kingma, Stephan Myburgh, Max O’Dowd, Michael Rippon, Pieter Seelaar, Logan Van Beek, Timm Van Der Gugten, Roelof Van Der Merwe, Paul van Meekeren.

OMAN: Sultan Ahmed (captain), Aamir Kaleem, Sufiyan Mehmood, Zeeshan Maqsood, Amir Ali, Jatinder Singh, Rajeshkumar Ranpura, Ajay Lalcheta, Zeeshan Siddiqui, Munis Ansari, Mehran Khan, Vaibhav Wategaonkar, Khawar Ali, Adnan Ilyas, Bilal Khan.

Group B

AFGHANISTAN: Asghar Stanikzai (captain), Amir Hamza, Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Karim Sadiq, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Najibullah Zadran, Noor Ali Zadran, Rashid Khan, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Shapoor Zadran, Usman Ghani.

HONG KONG: Tanwir Afzal (captain), Aizaz Khan, Anshy Rath, Jamie Atkinson, Babar Hayat, Ryan Campbell, Christopher Carter, Mark Chapman, Haseeb Amjad, Nadeem Ahmed, Nizakat Khan, Kinchit Shah, Tanveer Ahmed, Waqas Barkat, Waqas Khan.

SCOTLAND: Preston Mommsen (captain), Kyle Coetzer, Richie Berrington, Matthew Cross, Josh Davey, Con de Lange, Alasdair Evans, Michael Leask, Matt Machan, Calum MacLeod, Gavin Main, George Munsey, Safyaan Sharif, Rob Taylor, Mark Watt.

ZIMBABWE: Hamilton Masakadza (captain), Tendai Chatara, Chamu Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chisoro, Wellington Masakadza, Peter Moor, Tawanda Mupariwa, Richmond Mutumbami, Tinashe Panyangara, Vusi Sibanda, Sikandar Raza, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams, Donald Tiripano.


Group 1:

ENGLAND: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, James Vince, David Willey.

SOUTH AFRICA: Faf du Plessis (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Chris Morris, David Miller, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.

SRI LANKA: Lasith Malinga (captain) Angelo Mathews, Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath, Shehan Jayasuriya, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardana, Jeffrey Vandersay.

WEST INDIES: Darren Sammy (captain), Samuel Badree, Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Ashley Nurse, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor. *15th squad member to replace Lendl Simmons (back injury) still to be named.

Group 2

AUSTRALIA: Steven Smith (captain), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill, Andrew Tye, Shane Watson, Adam Zampa.

INDIA: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Mohammed Shami, Pawan Negi, Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh.

NEW ZEALAND: Kane Williamson (captain), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Martin Guptill, Grant Elliott, Colin Munro, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.

PAKISTAN: Shahid Afridi (captain), Anwar Ali, Imad Wasim, Khalid Latif, Khurram Manzoor, M Aamir, M Hafeez, M Irfan, M Nawaz, M Sami, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Sharjeel Khan, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz.