With the ICC Men's T20 World Cup starting on June 1 (early morning on June 2 in Indian Standard Time), defending champions England will face stiff opposition from cricketing powerhouses India, Australia and New Zealand, all eager to grab the trophy for themselves.

However, given the unpredictable nature of Twenty20 cricket, teams such as Afghanistan and the West Indies cannot be taken lightly, as they would hope to disrupt the established order and make an imprint on the world stage.

There are also several growing cricketing nations, such as hosts United States, debutants Uganda, Canada, and Namibia, striving for supremacy, setting the stage for some exciting clashes.

From nail-biting finishes to record-breaking performances, the tournament promises to be exciting.

Also read: Format, squads, schedule – All you need to know as the ninth edition begins

Here’s a look at the things to look forward to in the World Cup:

Precursor to the Olympics 2028

The arrival of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in the United States might be viewed as a watershed moment in the country’s sporting landscape. As cricket expands into new areas, holding major competitions demonstrates America’s rising interest and investment in the sport.

This tournament could act as a precursor to the Los Angeles Olympics where cricket will make a comeback to the quadrennial event after 128 years. With a crowd-friendly format in T20, potentially batting-friendly pitches in the USA, there is a chance that the sport’s novelty will test the appetite of the American audience.

It will also provide a glimpse into whether cricket can pique the interest of Americans, beyond the South Asian diaspora, and convert some of the National Football League, National Basketball Association and baseball-loving audience into cricket watchers.

Will India’s wait end?

India will be entering the T20 World Cup with a strong urge to break free from a string of near misses in major events. Despite being on the brink of victory in recent tournaments, they have stumbled when it mattered most.

Despite their domination in bilateral series and franchise-based T20 leagues, such as the Indian Premier League, India has struggled to match their success at ICC events.

Bolstered by a squad with experience and young blood, India would be hoping to reclaim the elusive crown it won in the first edition of 2007. Led by the seasoned Rohit Sharma, who began his second stint as captain in the previous T20 World Cup, they would want to end the drought of ICC trophies, the last title being the Champions Trophy in 2013.

Last appearance for Sharma, Kohli

This T20 World Cup could mark the final opportunity for both Sharma and Virat Kohli to win a trophy from one of the marquee white-ball tournaments.

In the recent IPL season, Kohli showcased his dominance as a prolific run scorer for Royal Challengers Bengaluru. He topped the batting charts with an impressive 741 runs.

Sharma, meanwhile, was inconsistent. He did score a notable 28-ball fifty in his final league match, but for the string of low scores in his preceding innings.

Despite leading Mumbai to five IPL titles, Sharma has yet to lift the World Cup trophy as captain. There is immense pressure on both players to deliver success for their side in the upcoming tournament. Will they be able to seize the opportunity and secure a title before potentially bowing out of international cricket?

Three-peat for Australia

Australia have a chance to make history as the first nation to hold all three of men’s cricket’s top global trophies at the same time.

Under Pat Cummins’ leadership, the Australians won the the World Test Championship in June 2023 and then the ODI team clinched the World Cup title in November 2023.

Following his interim leadership of Australia, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh was recently appointed as captain and is committing to maintaining a relaxed atmosphere akin to his predecessor, Test and One-Day captain Cummins, as the Australians strive to achieve the treble.

“A lot of preparation and planning goes into a World Cup, but once we’re there it’s about keeping everything nice and relaxed, keeping the environment good and making sure we give it our all,” Marsh said ahead of the World Cup, as reported by AFP.

Marsh will aim to secure Australia’s second T20 World Cup title, approximately two and a half years after Aaron Finch’s team achieved victory in the United Arab Emirates.

Debut for USA, Uganda

The USA will make its debut in the T20 World Cup, having won a spot by co-hosting the tournament with the West Indies. Despite the potential attention that comes with hosting duties, USA would also be determined to prove its worth among cricket’s top dogs.

Since 1965, USA has been an associate member of the International Cricket Council, and it has routinely played in non-Test nation events. However, they have never competed in the World Cup in either format. Their only major tournament appearance came in the 2004 Champions Trophy, where they lost to New Zealand and Australia in the group stage.

Meanwhile, this is the first time Uganda’s senior men’s team will compete in a World Cup. Uganda qualified for the T20 World Cup by defeating Rwanda in the final of the Africa region qualification. Along the way, they also beat heavyweights Zimbabwe.

Uganda, along with Namibia, emerged as standout teams in the Africa Qualifier, securing a ticket in the ICC event and hence, there is excitement around their participation.