With IPL jamboree over, focus on India to defend its T20 crown
The fun and the frolic of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is over and it's time for India to defend its crown at the World Twenty20 that starts in London on Friday.
India took the world by surprise by winning the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship, which was compact and compelling, whereas the 50-over World Cup was not.
If Twenty20 can repeat the success it did on South African soil during the World Championship and in the recently concluded IPL then the shortest version of the game will prove that it is in London to stay.
Such has been the commercial success of Twenty20 that all tickets of the event have been nearly sold out, The Times reported. But if returns on advertising are to be maximised and investments of broadcasters repaid, it needs both hosts and holders to fare well.
There will be no shortage of attention over the next three weeks on dugouts, DJs and dancing girls.
With both England and India being the key markets, it is no coincidence that their teams will play all their matches (except the 3 pm [local time] final, should they reach it) no earlier than 5.30 pm (local time). This should ensure peak viewing in both countries.
For England, it is a chance to forget their poor performance at the inaugural World Twenty20 two years ago.
India, South Africa and Australia are the three teams England would be most keen to avoid. India are defending champions and have been seasoned for Twenty20 through the IPL, while South Africa and Australia look highly competitive.
Australia also stand a chance to not qualify from Group C, which is the only group lacking a genuine minnow. Australia's opponents are Sri Lanka and the West Indies. And if Zimbabwe could scupper Australia's chances last year anything can be expected this time.
England also have a banana-skin of their own to sidestep in Holland, their opponents in Friday's curtain-raiser at Lord's. Holland have two able cricketers in Dirk Nannes, an Australian by upbringing but qualified for Holland through parentage, and Ryan ten Doeschate, the Essex allrounder.
Nannes was a star in the recent IPL, where he kept Glenn McGrath out of the Delhi Daredevils side and was praised by Virender Sehwag for his raw speed.