Qualifiers: Who’ll be the lucky two?

The top team from each group will progress to the Super 10 main draw.

Commuters wait under a banner of the ICC world Twenty20 tournament at a bus stand in New Delhi. The tournament gets underway on March 8 with a preliminary league involving eight teams, two of which qualify for the Super 10 stage.   -  AP

Here is a look at the eight teams which will compete in the first round of the ICC World Twenty20. The top team from each group will progress to the Super 10 main draw.

GROUP ‘A’:

Bangladesh

A fine run in 2015 — gaining a 50-over World Cup quarterfinal berth, and series victories over Pakistan, India and South Africa — allowed Bangladesh to finally shed the ‘minnows’ tag. The juniors, too, have followed suit, taking a credible third-spot in the recently-concluded Under-19 World Cup. These are good times for cricket in the country.

> Mortaza on Bangladesh's chances

It could get better, with Bangladesh playing host to the Asia Cup T20 tournament — perfect preparation for bigger challenges to come in India. The core of the side which will compete at home will do duty in the World T20, and the team has made clear of its ambitions to win the Asia Cup title. Even if the trophy does not come its way, a few good shows against the best Asian teams will go a long way in bolstering the side’s confidence.

The team:

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

Players to watch out for: >Shakib Al Hasan, >Nasir Hossain.

Ireland

Accustomed to punching above its weight, Ireland will view this tournament as yet another opportunity to make waves. The victory over England in the 2011 50-over World Cup in India is undoubtedly the most famous of them all, even if Ireland has struggled to replicate those heights since. The recent highlight came in 2014, when the team defeated West Indies, in Jamaica in 2014, to draw a short T20 series 1-1. However, Ireland could not make the main draw of the World T20, which followed a month later, when Netherlands progressed from a tight group on the basis of a superior net run-rate.

The side will be led by the experienced William Porterfield, who will look to Paul Stirling, Gary Wilson, Niall O’Brien and Kevin O’Brien —all proven hands — to deliver the goods. The return of pacer Boyd Rankin, who has played one Test for England, has strengthened the bowling attack.

The team:

William Porterfield (captain), Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Andy 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.

Players to watch out for: >Kevin O’Brien, >Boyd Rankin.

> Read: Test cricket high on Ireland's agenda

Oman

The Arab nation sealed a maiden spot in a major ICC event when it defeated fancied Namibia in a play-off match in Hong Kong last year. That five-wicket win, fashioned by an unbeaten 40-ball 51 by Zeeshan Siddique, capped a giant-killing burst by Oman in the tournament.

Since then, however, its T20 record has been less than impressive, losing five of eight matches played. A big test of international quality came in November last year, when the side took on Afghanistan in two T20s. Both encounters went in favour of Afghanistan, though the margins of defeat — 12 and 27 runs — suggest that the affairs were not entirely one-sided. In the most-recent Asia Cup qualifying rounds, positive signs emerged when Oman edged out Hong Kong by five runs, before a familiar foe in Afghanistan once again proved to be too a big hurdle to overcome.

The team:

Sultan Ahmed (captain), Aamir Kaleem, Syed Amir Ali, Munis Ansari, Jatinder Singh, Ajay Lalcheta, Mehran Khan, Rajesh Ranpura, Sufyan Mehmood, Vaibhav Wategaonkar, Zeeshan Siddiqui, Zeeshan Maqsood, Bilal Khan, Adnan Ilyas, Aaqib Ilyas.

Player to watch out for: >Zeeshan Siddique.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands has shown that it has what it takes to spring a surprise on the big stage. This was best evidenced in the 2009 and 2014 World T20 World Cups, when the underdog pulled off two massive upsets against the same team, England. This time around, the Netherlands — joint-winner in the World T20 Qualifiers — is pitted against Bangladesh, Oman and Ireland in the first round, and the side can be expected to mount a serious challenge for a Super 10 spot.

Under the able stewardship of New Zealand-born captain Peter Borren, the Netherlands will, no doubt, view the Bangladesh fixture as the biggest obstacle on the course.

The team:

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

Players to watch out for: >Stephan Myburgh, >Ben Cooper.

GROUP ‘B’:

Scotland

Since former New Zealand international Grant Bradburn took over as coach in 2014, the side has seen an upswing in fortunes. The 50-over World Cup, last year, saw Preston Mommsen and his men push Bangladesh to the brink, before the more established unit prevailed in an epic chase. A similarly fighting performance nearly took out host New Zealand as well.

Still winless at the mega-event, Scotland will fancy its chances to open its account here, given that it has been grouped with Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Zimbabwe. In the qualifiers, Scotland had defeated Hong Kong and lost to the impressive Afghanistan, on its way to the washed-out summit clash against the Netherlands. Two wins and two losses have followed in international T20s, including a worrying nine-wicket loss suffered at the hands of Hong Kong earlier this year.

The team:

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.

Players to watch out for: >Kyle Coetzer, >Mathew Cross.

Afghanistan

A superb run of 11 wins in 13 matches after the 2014 World T20 will stand Afghanistan in good stead here. This run includes a 2-0 series win over Zimbabwe, in Sharjah in January this year, where burly wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad slammed a rapid 118 in the second T20.

Shahzad — who took the record for the highest individual score by an associate nation batsman in the format — will look to expand his ever-growing fan base with more stellar shows.

In Shahzad and fast-bowler Dawlat Zadran, the nation has two cricketers in the top-10 of the ICC Twenty20 player rankings. While the former’s pyrotechnics keeps the spectators at the edge of their seats, the nippy Zadran can prove to be a handful for rival batsmen.

The return of speedsters Shapoor Zadran and Hamid Hassan will add to the balance of the squad.

The team:

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

Players to watch out for: >Dawlat Zadran, >Mohammad Shahzad.

> Scotland vs Afghanistan preview

Hong Kong

The inclusion of former Australia batsman Ryan Campbell in the Hong Kong side has been a major talking point in cricket circles recently. Campbell — his grandmother is Chinese, and he has held a player-coach job at the Kowloon Cricket Club for the last four years — insists that he is not just another aging player looking for a final hoorah.

Off the field, the cricket board’s CEO, Tim Cutler, believes that Hong Kong has not gotten the accolades that it deserves. Cutler emphasises that class players are in plenty and it is just a matter of giving them a chance to showcase their skills. What better stage than the World T20 — held in the modern-day Mecca of world cricket — to grab the spotlight?

The team:

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.

Players to watch out for: >Ryan Campbell, >Mark Chapman.

> Zimbabwe vs Hong Kong preview

Zimbabwe

The African nation will, no doubt, miss the services of Brendan Taylor, who quit international cricket recently to ply his trade in the English county circuit. Even in his final innings as a Zimbabwe international, it was clear that the big-hitting Taylor had plenty left in the tank.

Without its star player, Zimbabwe has had to rely on skipper Hamilton Masakadza to shore up the batting. Masakadza and his men have made a good fist of it, splitting a four-match T20 series against Bangladesh in January. That was the last bit of international action that the players witnessed, and apart from competing in the nation’s domestic league, match-practice has been less than adequate.

The team:

Hamilton Masakadza (captain), Sean Williams, Tendai Chatara, Wellington Masakadza, Tinashe Panyangara, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Sikandar Raza, Richmond Mutumbami, Luke Jongwe, Tendai Chisoro, Neville Madziva, Malcolm Waller, Vusi Sibanda, Graeme Cremer; Donald Tiripano (stand-by).

Player to watch out for: >Hamilton Masakadza. >Here's a chat with him