ICC: 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 18 October.
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 the 2014 final.
Outside the top eight of the ICC Men’s T20I Team Rankings at the cut-off date and currently ranked 10th, their form going into the 2021 edition has been up and down to say the least.
A landmark 2-1 series win over India in July this year was also bookended by 3-0 series whitewashes to England in their own backyard and the Proteas in South Africa.
But no team has won more T20 World Cup games than Sri Lanka and their experience – along with a talented squad – makes them prime candidates to reach the Super 12 stage.
Captained by Dasun Shanaka, Avishka Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera and Maheesh Theekshana are all potential match-winners for Sri Lanka on their day.
They will open their campaign against debutants Namibia on 18 October in Abu Dhabi before a potentially decisive meeting two days later with Ireland, ranked two places lower in 12th.
Sri Lanka conclude their Group A fixtures on 22 October with a clash in Sharjah against the Netherlands, who they defeated by nine wickets en route to claiming the 2014 title.