CHITTAGONG - On either side of the draw of the ICC World Twenty20 2014, if there is one team that seems dead set to make the final four, it is Sri Lanka. When Dinesh Chandimal’s men, it seems odd to call them boys even if he insists on doing so when the ranks include the two veterans, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in their final tournament in this format, pitched up in Chittagong, there was an air of quiet confidence in the unit.

Of all the teams from the subcontinent, Sri Lanka is the most balanced, on paper. India has bowling concerns, Pakistan’s batting often leaves Misbah-ul-Haq playing the role of rescuer rather than batsman in the longer formats, and Bangladesh has shown it can be brittle. Sri Lanka seemingly has all bases covered.

The batting line-up has just the right mix of worker bees and outright attacking batsmen, the bowling has more variety than you will ever need in a 20-over game, the fielding is sharp and there are enough batsmen who can bowl and bowlers who can chip in with bat.

If Sri Lanka has one concern, it is the form of Tillakaratne Dilshan, who has a very specific and critical role at the top of the order. Dilshan’s job is to score runs quickly, but it does not end there. The manner in which Dilshan goes about his business typically upsets the rhythm of bowlers, forcing them to change their lines and lengths. This allows the other batsmen in the Sri Lankan line-up to get themselves in without being under pressure to attack right away. The fact that Dilshan has not got going will be on the back of Chandimal’s mind, but not enough to think about fiddling with the batting order just yet.

For Chandimal, the focus was on getting early wins under the belt to ensure that progression to the final four is in the bag. “The way our spinners bowled in the Asia Cup, they will get something from the pitches. We are in a group with teams that are not good at playing spin so we have a good chance of going through,” said Chandimal. “However we will take it match by match and our main focus is to get to the semifinal. From there onwards we will have to plan our strategies differently.”

The first hurdle for Sri Lanka is South Africa, and the two teams square off in a 3.30pm (local time) start at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on Saturday (March 22). South Africa has the luxury of coming into this tournament flying under the radar. Given its history in global events of this kind, South Africa has given itself a chance to simply go about its business, unconcerned with the kind of hype other teams have had to deal with.

New Zealand not to take stuttering England lightly: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum will not be underestimating England when the sides open their World Twenty20 campaigns in Chittagong on Saturday. England are unfancied outsiders to regain the title they won in 2010, with a string of poor results behind them and a squad that appears well short of its best form.

McCullum does not deny that the Black Caps' Group One rivals are enduring a tough spell, but is wary of how quickly that can change in the manic world of T20 cricket. "The tour of Australia was tough for England this winter, and the West Indies too, but in this form of the game things can turn so quickly," he said. "You only need one of two players to grab the initiative for your team and get you in a winning position and all of a sudden you have confidence as a team. I'm sure that's what they will be talking about and it's a note of caution for us too. While they are probably short of form at the moment they can turn it around quickly too. We must make sure we are as good as we can be and not let chance come into it."

Since New Zealand last played England, they have unearthed a couple of match-winning newcomers and McCullum sounded a note of cautious optimism about what Jimmy Neesham and Corey Anderson can do on Saturday - and in the tournament as a whole. Anderson scored the quickest ODI hundred in history, in just 36 balls, against West Indies on New Year's Day, while Neesham has proved a talented player across the formats since his introduction.

"Corey is an incredible talent," said McCullum. "That century against West Indies was sublime hitting from ball one. He's one of those guys that when he gets himself in he can win a game pretty quickly. Jimmy is another one who has come in and done great things for us. They haven't played a great deal of cricket on the world stage or against teams like England but so that challenge is there for them.

Hopefully we can sit back in a couple of weeks and say those guys stood up and grabbed their opportunity."

Meanwhile, captain Stuart Broad has told his England side a winning start at the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh is "non-negotiable". Few England cricket teams have arrived at a global tournament with expectation around them so low, a combination of their woeful winter in all formats and the controversial absence of their likeliest T20 match-winner, Kevin Pietersen.

The skipper, who expects to be fit despite battling an ongoing tendonitis issue in his right knee, said: "I think it's well documented that, as an England side, we tend not to start overly well. That's something that we've mentioned within the changing room, but it's a non-negotiable here. With the way the tournament's set up a lot of good teams are not going to make it to the semi-final, so you've got to put yourself up there as a front-runner to start with. We've played a lot against New Zealand in the past 14 months, we had a long spell over there and they came to us this summer, so we've got a lot of knowledge about their players but it will be about us as an England team adapting to the conditions here."

Question marks over Broad's participation against the Black Caps have been circling after a recurrence of his ongoing knee condition flared up in West Indies earlier in the month. He missed the last two T20 matches in Barbados and has sent down just two overs, in Wednesday's warm-up defeat to India, since arriving in Bangladesh.

"I'm pretty confident, no, very confident of playing a part on Saturday and in the rest of the tournament," he said. "The knee has come up pretty well from the India game. That was quite a new position for me as a player, to have my first bowl and fitness test during a game. But it actually gave me a lot of confidence having had 12 balls in the middle, because we know how different it is bowling in nets. It has been a long winter for me personally, with the amount of overs I've bowled and these 10 days have just freshened me up so I can really come firing into this World Cup."