When the first World T20 (as the T20 World Cup was then known) took place in South Africa, Rahul Dravid managed to persuade Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly to not play the event. The idea then was to give an opportunity to the youngsters in a format that few Indian players truly understood.

India, in fact, had played just one Twenty20 International before (against South Africa) and this was a format that the BCCI was not very keen on either. Their argument was that you could sell more ads during a One-day International match.

Cut to 2021 and the T20 format has become the driving force in cricket. Not only in financial terms but in helping spread the sport too. When the ICC chooses to push the sport into new areas, the format of choice is T20.

ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021: Complete schedule for the Super 12 stage

The other big reason why T20 continues to flourish is due to the number of professional leagues that have cropped up around the world. It brings in the money but it also brings in opportunity; opportunity to get exposure and grow as players.

The biggest hurdle for players from affiliate nations all around the world is being able to rub shoulders with the best in the world. Previously, they could do it just in the World Cup but now thanks to the professional leagues, they can pick up the game even faster. It all comes to merit and not which nation you belong to.

Major T20 leagues

Nations Tournament Period
 Afghanistan Afghanistan Premier League (APL) 2018–present
 Australia Big Bash League (BBL) 2011–present
 Bangladesh Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) 2012–2020, 2022-present
 England &  Wales T20 Blast 2003-present
 Ireland,  Netherlands &  Scotland Euro T20 Slam Planned from 2022
 India Indian Premier League (IPL) 2008–present
 New Zealand Super Smash 2005–present
 Pakistan Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2016–present
 South Africa Mzansi Super League (MSL) 2018–2019, 2022-present
 Sri Lanka Lanka Premier League (LPL) 2020-present
 UAE Premier League T20 Planned from 2022
 United States Major League Cricket (MLC) Planned from 2023
 United States Minor League Cricket 2021-present
 West Indies Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2013–present
World Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) 2009–2014

In Test match cricket, you have a chance to fight back over the course of a match. The quality eventually rises to the top over the course of five days. In ODIs, over 50 overs, the better teams usually will figure out ways to win. But in T20s, one spell of four overs or one special innings can change the game and there can sometimes be no coming back from that.

In a sense, it makes T20, ‘THE’ format to watch. Cricket is a team sport but in T20s, the individual can shine the brightest because of how short it is. One brilliant knock can push the opposition into the corner much faster and then desperation becomes your ally. You live on the edge and that means mistakes get punished no matter what team you are playing for.

“Once you get into the knockout stages, from a team sport, it also becomes an individual sport where, you know, you may come up with 10 minutes of special performance, and that can really help you win the game,” India team mentor and CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had said after the Indian Premier League 2021 final.

Dhoni had added: “So, it is a team sport, but the moment you get into the knockout, make sure that if you are somebody who’s doing well, you know, you keep doing well and if you have not contributed a lot, it could be that one or two performances that can really help the team win the trophy.”

For every team in the Super 12s, it comes down to this: can they find the one or two performances that will put the more fancied teams in a spot of bother?

The execution of the top teams will be better but sometimes, when you are getting hammered all over the park, you simply lose your mind.

T20 World Cup winners

Year Winners Runners Up Host
2021 TBA TBA Oman & UAE
2016 West Indies England India
2014 Sri Lanka India Bangladesh
2012 West Indies Sri Lanka Sri Lanka
2010 England Australia West Indies
2009 Pakistan Sri Lanka England
2007 India Pakistan South Africa

West Indies have won the tournament twice – not just because they understand the format but also because perhaps their belligerence is an almost natural fit in the format. They just keep going at it and in T20s that is perhaps what everyone needs to keep doing. There is no scope to take your foot off the pedal.

T20 thrives in the moment; it thrives in momentary madness; it thrives in flashes of brilliance. You need skill to conquer the format but having luck on your side can sometimes do the trick too. A quick-fire knock or burst of wickets can completely change the momentum of the game and that is what will give every team hope as the World Cup truly begins with the Super 12s today.