After suffering a tame week which ensured a poor start to the tournament, the World T20 finally picks up momentum from Thursday. The top eight teams, divided into two groups, battle it out for supremacy at Pallekele and Colombo. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has been under fire from various quarters since this latest edition of the World T20 began, and often justifiably so.

The first criticism was about the timing of the tournament. Although no game has been a complete washout, three matches have seen the rain influence the results. It is questionable why the tournament is being played at a time when rains are as much a part of the deal as the heat in Sri Lanka.

The second factor, that killed the charm of the first round, was the rule that no points from the group stage could be carried over to the Super Eights. That meant that most of the time the third game in every group was merely of academic interest, since every group had a minnow that struggled to survive. The event didn't even have an opening ceremony, and it was strange to see India play at Colombo, while hosts Sri Lanka slugged it out at far-away Hambantota!

But the grain has now been separated from the chaff. The eight teams left have been divided into two pools in the Super Eights, whose composition was a foregone conclusion unless there was an upset. India, Pakistan, Australia and South Africa make for the group that will slug it out at the Premadasa here, while England, West Indies, hosts Sri Lanka and New Zealand comprise the other pool which will play their games at Pallekele. Two teams from each group make the semis, with the final scheduled for October 7.

The tournament could yet pick up if the big-ticket, 'double-header' clashes lined up for the next few days live up to their billing. The biggest, of course, is the marquee India versus Pakistan contest on Sunday night at the Premadasa, a match which even the locals are thrilled about. For the cricket fan, though, there is something exciting to look forward to before that too.

On Thursday evening, at Pallekele, the Lankans take on the Kiwis in the first game of the Super Eights. Lanka go in as favourites into that game, though they have to guard against one of the most dangerous T20 players in the world in Brendon McCullum.

The Lankans will be sweating over the fitness of their freakish spinner Ajantha Mendis more than their opposition. Returning from an injury, Mendis took 6-8 against Zimbabwe before a side strain kept him out of the next match and put his participation in doubt.

Thursday night will also see the exciting Windies square up against defending champions England. On Friday night, India, thriving on spinners and the in-form young brigade of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, go into the next round with a tough clash against Australia.

But before that, you have the mercurial Pakistanis, making merry on off-spinner Saeed Ajmal's fingers, taking on South Africa, who are still on the hunt for their maiden World Cup crown.

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