Dubai [UAE], October 13 (ANI): Sri Lanka, Ireland, the Netherlands and Namibia will contest Group A in the first round of the 2021 ICC Men's T20 World Cup for the right to reach the Super 12 stage.
Only the top two teams will progress from the group after all four have played against each other once in the round-robin format, kicking off with the first games on October 18.
Namibia will make history after qualifying for the tournament for the first time, having qualified through the 2019 ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier with victory over Oman.
Ireland and Netherlands also secured their ICC Men's T20 World Cup berths through the same route while 2014 champions Sri Lanka qualified through their world ranking.
The top seeds from Group A will enter Group 1 of the Super 12 stage along with Australia, England, South Africa, West Indies and the second seed from Group B.
Meanwhile, the second team from Group A go into Group 2 with Afghanistan, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and the top seeds from Group B after the first round of fixtures.
Favourites on paper to progress as top seeds from Group A, Sri Lanka have been inextricably intertwined with the ICC Men's T20 World Cup ever since the first one in 2007. They have contested every single tournament since then, finishing runners-up in 2009 and 2012 before finally lifting the trophy with victory over India in 2014 final.
Since missing out on the inaugural tournament in 2007, Ireland has been a regular feature of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup and will contest their sixth in the UAE and Oman. Their best-ever performance to date came on their debut at the 2009 edition hosted by England, progressing from the first round to reach the Super 8s after beating Bangladesh.
The Dutch showed their pedigree in the shortest format by winning the 2019 ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier, beating Papua New Guinea by seven wickets in the final in Dubai. Netherlands had already secured their qualification by reaching the semi-final stage, where they defeated Ireland by 21 runs to lay down a marker to their Group A rivals.
The lowest-ranked team in the tournament at 19th, Namibia are making their ICC Men's T20 World Cup debut this year and will be viewed as underdogs to progress from Group A.
Yet their road to the showpiece event showed that they do not give up without a fight, clinching their maiden appearance with five straight wins after defeats to Netherlands and PNG. (ANI)