Cricket’s oldest international rivalry will get the Twenty20 World Cup started when the co-host U.S. team takes on Canada in Dallas on Saturday.

Well before the two fiercest rivalries in the sport were established — Australia vs. England and India vs. Pakistan — teams from the U.S. and Canada met in the first international cricket match in 1844.

While the popularity of cricket faded in North America, it certainly flourished elsewhere.

And now there’s no clear favorite at the biggest-ever T20 World Cup, with 20 countries split into four groups to compete for the title in international cricket’s fastest format.

Two-time champion West Indies will host the bulk of the games at traditional cricket venues in the Caribbean, including the semifinals and the June 29 final, but the pitches in Dallas, New York and Lauderhill will play a role in determining which teams reach the knockout stage.

Here’s a breakdown of the groups:

GROUP A

The U.S. team is confident going into the tournament opener after its upset 2-1 series win over test-ranked Bangladesh in a warmup series.

“We’re hungry, and are going to eat whoever comes in our way,” said fast bowler Ali Khan, who was among the four key U.S. players rested for the third game which Bangladesh won by 10 wickets. “I am sure the U.S. will (cause) some upsets.”

India and Pakistan are favorites to make it to the Super 8 stage from Group A, which also includes Ireland.

India has banked on experienced players such as captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, perhaps playing for the last time in a T20 World Cup, to win back the title it won at the inaugural tournament in South Africa in 2007.

There’s always an added flavor in any ICC event when Pakistan and India meet, attracting a billion-plus TV audience. This first-round contest between the subcontinental neighbors is scheduled for June 9 at the newly built 34,000-capacity stadium in New York.

Rain in England hampered Pakistan’s build-up for the World Cup after two of its four T20s were wiped out, but the 2009 champion hopes it will go all the way to win the title after reaching the semifinals or better at the last two tournaments.

Like the U.S., Ireland sprung an upset over a major team when it won the opening game of the three-match series against a Babar Azam -led full strength Pakistan lineup in Dublin before losing the remaining two games of the warmup series.

GROUP B

Defending champion England and 2021 winner Australia have a relatively comfortable group that includes Namibia, Oman and Scotland.

England goes into World Cup with only handful of games in the format since winning the title in Australia in 2022, but its players have competed in prominent domestic T20 leagues to stay tuned up for the mega event.

Captain Jos Buttler has been in scintillating form in the Indian Premier League with two centuries, while Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Phil Salt and Sam Curran also had long outings in the lucrative franchise tournament.

Australia has left out its rising T20 star Jake Fraser-McGurk, but has one of the most potent bowling attacks in the world led by the likes of pacemen Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.

Namibia made it to the World Cup after staying undefeated in the six matches during the Africa regional qualifier, where it beat Uganda and Zimbabwe. An upset win over Sri Lanka in 2022 has been the highlight so far for the Namibians.

Oman carries a mix of tournament experience in its ranks heading into a third appearance in the T20 World Cup. Oman has twice beaten Namibia and will be led by Aqib Ilyas, who as a top-order batter has an average of 42.50 and a strike rate of 158.38 in the last seven games.

GROUP C

It could be the toughest of the groups with one of either West Indies, New Zealand or Afghanistan set to make an early exit from the tournament because only the top two can advance to the Super 8.

Afghanistan has batting and bowling flare to challenge both West Indies and New Zealand, especially its spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman.

West Indies, led by Rovman Powell, will have home advantage in its bid for a third title with the likes of former captain Nicholas Pooran and pace bowler Shamar Joseph among its ranks along with experienced Jason Holder.

Kane Williamson’s New Zealand squad has made reaching the semifinals of major ICC tournaments a habit. The Black Caps have a team combination that suits the demands of fast-pace T20, with Rachin Ravindra growing into the role of opening the batting and dominating the power play.

Uganda could spring a surprise as it goes into its first World Cup with a record record of 41 wins in its last 49 T20 internationals. Papua New Guinea is also on a roll of 14 wins in 18 games ahead of its second World Cup appearance.

GROUP D

South Africa will be hoping to shrug off its ‘chokers’ tag in ICC tournaments and is one of the favorites to advance from a group that contains two other test nations in Sri Lanka with Bangladesh. Netherlands and Nepal are also in the group.

South Africa has no dearth of power-hitters in its ranks, with Heinrich Klaasen’s dominance against spin bowling likely to come in handy. Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, David Miller and Reeza Hendricks have the ability to give the innings momentum against any sort of bowling attack. Keshav Maharaj and wrist spinner Tabrazi Shamsi are its two standout spinners while Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje will lead the pace attack.

Sri Lanka’s compact spin attack features captain Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana, two of the best spinners on the T20 circuit. The batting depth isn’t as strong but still contains Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka and former captains Dasun Shanaka and Angelo Mathews.

Bangladesh’s chances of advancing will depend heavily on star allrounder Shakib Al Hasan, and a return to form of Liton Das.

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AP T20 World Cup: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket