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The ICC World Twenty20 gets underway from Friday. Here’s part one of my preview:

India, the defending champions, will face high expectations after emerging triumphant from the thrilling finale last time out.  The intervening years have of course seen the development of the Indian Premier League, a competition that means India’s players have a wealth of Twenty20 experience (although the national side has only played five T20 Internationals since the last competition, winning only one). Twenty20 superstars such as MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh will certainly strengthen the holders’ chances of retaining the title.

Bangladesh caused a minor shock last time out when they beat the West Indies to make the Super Eight, and hopes will be high that they can reach that stage again. The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraful and Shakib Al Hasan are potential match-winners, but no Bangladeshi player has yet set the IPL alight, and any progression beyond the last eight seems unlikely for the Tigers.

Ireland qualified for the tournament mainly thanks to an impressive performance from Andre Botha. The side will, however, be missing a key player of recent years in Eoin Morgan, who has been called into England’s squad for the tournament.  A surprise result against Bangladesh could see the Irish sneak into the Super Eight (much as they did in the last 50-over World Cup), but on balance the current side (especially without Morgan) may be hard-pressed to repeat the heroics of 2007.

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Ireland, the Netherlands and (pending confirmation of Zimbabwe’s non-participation) Scotland have all qualified for next year’s World Twenty20, although the final of the qualifying tournament was rained off, so Ireland and the Netherlands had to share the trophy. So, who will Herschelle Gibbs be hitting for 36 in an over this time next year?

Ireland will obviously be hoping that the World Twenty20 will be an opportunity to replicate their heroics in last year’s Word Cup. Their success in qualifying was partially due to the astute bowling of Andre Botha, who took 8 -42 in the tournament as a whole, and also finished with the highest batting average of any ‘Irish’ player in the tournament.

The Netherlands’ star man is Ryan ten Doeschate, who continued his good Twenty20 form, and wasMan of the Match in the Semi-Final. Another Dutch success story was Peter Borren, who made a fair few runs as well as taking 5-76.

Scotland’s Dewald Nel took 9-60 across all matches, with an economy rate of 4.00, quite an achievement for a twenty20 bowler. Kyle Coetzer and Ryan Watson were the pick of the batsmen for the Scots, making 199 runs between them, with Watson’s highest score 54 and Coetzer making 48 not out.

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