Group A's Associates
Full Member to beat: Bangladesh
Afghanistan are coming off their Asia Cup defeat of Bangladesh with genuine hopes of overturning them once more to make an unexpected appearance in the Super 10 stage. They have an explosive squad with real talent, although they are without the perennially injured Hamid Hassan once again.
It's difficult to pick out any particularly dangerous players from the Afghan squad because they can all pack a hefty punch. Mohammad Nabi and Gulbodin Naib are the two impact all-rounders, while Samiullah Shenwari's reputation will have ballooned in the Asia Cup. Add to that their Test class pace battery of Shapoor, Dawlat and Aftab Alam, and even without Hamid Hassan, this is a big opportunity for Afghanistan.
It might be Hong Kong's first time at the World Twenty20, but they've got players who are capable of mixing it with the best. At the top of the order, Irfan Ahmed and Jamie Atkinson have been terrorising Associate attacks for the past few years, and will be hopeful that they can do the same here. When you add to that the quality of bowling imports Haseeb Amjad and Tanwir Afzal, as well as spinners like Munir Dar, Nizakat Khan and Nadeem Ahmed, then Hong Kong look ideally suited for Bangladeshi wickets.
They too will go into the tournament with confidence, having only yesterday defeated Ireland with ease.
Nepal's fans never had any doubts that they would make it to Bangladesh, but for me it was a pleasant surprise that they made it here. With the all-round skills of Paras Khadka, as well as the spin threat of Shakti Gauchan and Basanta Regmi, they should be confident against their fellow Associates, but I don't think they have the consistent strength to take on Bangladesh yet. All the same, there is nobody over the age of thirty in this Nepalese team, and the experience should be very valuable for the future.
Keep an eye on Sharad Vesawkar, who is a far better batsman than his stats suggest.
Group B's Associates
Full Member to beat: Zimbabwe
A lot has been written about Ireland, and a lot of it by me, but their run-in to this tournament has been far from ideal. They won their first T20 in the Caribbean, but they also lost against Trinidad & Tobago 'A', and then failed to chase a sub-100 target against the West Indies. Add defeats against Worcestershire and Hong Kong to that, and you would understand if Irish confidence is not at its highest.
All the same, the Irish often rise to the occasion for global tournaments, and they will be hoping that this is no different. They are still the favourites to progress from Group B, and I think that Stuart Thompson will be instrumental if they do.
This tournament carries absolutely massive consequences for the Netherlands. After their nightmare World Cup Qualifier lost them ODI status, they will be counting on this tournament to keep them somewhere in the mix for T20 Internationals and whatever fixtures and finances arise from that. A lot will depend on Ahsan Malik Jamil, after his Qualifier wickets, and on Wesley Barresi's batting form. They will also be hoping to get some good performances out of Kiwi Under-19 Logan van Beek.
Rippon and Seelaar will hope to make the most of turning Bangladeshi wickets, as all of them are pretty much playing for their international careers. Also, keep an eye on Ben Cooper, brother of Aussie-again batsman Tom.
The United Arab Emirates cop a lot of flak for the amount of ex-pats in their side (which almost directly correlates to the number of ex-pats in their country) but it's a strategy that is bearing fruit. Now a part of all three World Cups, (CWC, WT20 and U19) this ageing side can hope to have younger players following in their footsteps.
All the same, a great deal will rest on the ageless shoulders of Khurram Khan, the exemplary 42-year old Pakistani all-rounder who continues to lead the UAE with his captaincy, batting, bowling and fielding and would be a credit to any of the Full Members in the tournament. The same cannot be said of all his colleagues, though, and against good opposition they will likely be run ragged in the field. In stark contrast to Nepal, no less than eight of the Emirati squad are over 30 years of age.