Hosts Bangladesh effectively have to qualify for World T20
Bangladesh will have to play the opening round of next year's World Twenty20, which is effectively a qualifying round for the Super 10 stage of the tournament. In the opening round, they will be grouped with three other Associate and Affiliate nations, who are yet to be determined - they will come through the qualifying tournament that will be played in the UAE starting mid-November.
As per the new format, by which the tournament is expanded to 16 teams, Zimbabwe, too, will have battle three non-Test playing nations to qualify. The top-eight sides on the ICC's T20 rankings as on October 8, 2012, have been given direct entry into the Super 10 stage.
Bangladesh open the tournament in Mirpur on March 16, against one of the Associate or Affiliate qualifiers. They also play two other first-round matches, in Chittagong, on March 18 and 20.
Some of the Bangladesh players have voiced their displeasure at the format, but on the occasion of the announcing of the schedule in Dhaka, captain Mushfiqur Rahim said his team will give it their "best shot" to be in the second round. "It [the format] is not really disappointing. We have to play the tournament. The rules and regulations can't be in our hands," Mushfiqur said. "We have to play very well because there will [be] some good teams. It is a new challenge, but if you're a cricketer you have to accept those challenges and get over it."
Bangladesh haven't progressed to the second round of the World T20 since the inaugural tournament in 2007, when they beat West Indies in their opening game and subsequently made it to the Super Eights. Mushfiqur is hoping it happens this time: "The boys are really keen to do it. We will give our best shot to get to the second round. We will have team goals. It is very important for us to get through the first round. In the Twenty20 format, no team is big.
"On the particular day, if you play better, you can beat any team. We are focusing on the first stage as of now. We haven't done it [qualified to the second round] in the last few times but these are our conditions. Support will be strong for us."
Campbell Jamieson, ICC general manager - commercial, who was present at the announcement, said that it was a cricketing decision, rather than a commercial one, to put Bangladesh in the first round. The ICC would love to see them go far in the tournament, like previous hosts in recent global events, he said. "It was purely a cricketing decision. The schedule put forward is based on rankings at the end of the 2012 World Twenty20.
"With any sporting event in the world, it is great for the event if the host nation goes all the way to the final. The ICC has been fortunate in recent times with both India [World Cup 2011] and Sri Lanka [World T20 2012), where both host nations made it to the final. In the Champions Trophy this year, England made it to the final. It is up to the Bangladesh team to make it through to the final. It is in their hands. I am sure that if they perform on the day, they have the ability to do what the others have done before them."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here