Afghanistan
Afghanistan is the fancied side in the Asia Cup T20 qualifiersReuters

Four teams, one spot up for grabs, and a big spot too, considering the World T20 is just around the corner. Afghanistan, UAE, Hong Kong and Oman will fight it out in the Asia Cup qualifying stages for an opportunity to play against the big boys in the main round of the T20 tournament, which will act as the perfect warm-up to the World T20.

The last time the Asia Cup was played, Afghanistan, given a direct entry, made a name for themselves, by stunning the hosts Bangladesh. That was in the 50-over format, though, and with the Asia Cup turning into T20 colours in view of the World Cup that is coming up in India, Afghanistan will hope for a similar impact. To do that, however, they will have to cross the hurdles posed by Oman, UAE and Hong Kong.

Afghanistan is the favourite to find a way past the other three teams, but such is the nature of T20 cricket, that anything is possible. On their day, Oman, the least favoured side, can easily beat the favourites in Afghanistan, much like they did in the World T20 qualifiers last year.

So, no team will be taking qualification to the Asia Cup T20 for granted, and with plenty at stake it will all probably come down to who holds their nerve in the big situations.

Afghanistan has the experience to do that, having played plenty of international games, but the same can be said, to a certain extent, of Hong Kong and the UAE, who have previously played in the Asia Cup, as well.

The United Arab Emirates had a few bright moments in the 50-over World Cup last year, and while they could not make enough of an impression, there was enough talent there to cause a worry line or two to come to the fore even for the big teams.

Hong Kong, like the UAE, has also tasted the Asia Cup in the past – in 2004 and 2008 – and having beaten Bangladesh in the World T20, a couple of years ago, and Afghanistan, last year, they will certainly fancy their chances of booking a date with India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Asia Cup T20 2016 qualifying schedule: Match 1: Afghanistan vs UAE

Date: Friday, February 19.

Time: 3 p.m. local time (2.30 pm IST, 9 a.m. GMT, 4 a.m. ET).

Venue: Khan Saheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah.

Match 2: Hong Kong vs Oman.

Date: Friday, February 19.

Time: 7.30 p.m. local time (7 p.m. IST, 1.30 p.m. GMT, 8.30 a.m. ET).

Venue: Khan Saheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah.

Match 3: Afghanistan vs Oman

Date: Saturday, February 20.

Time: 3 p.m. local time (2.30 p.m. IST, 9 a.m. GMT, 4 a.m. ET).

Venue: Khan Saheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah.

Match 4: Hong Kong vs UAE

Date: Sunday, February 21.

Time: 3 p.m. local time (2.30 p.m. IST, 9 a.m. GMT, 4 a.m. ET).

Venue: Khan Saheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah.

Match 5: Afghanistan vs Hong Kong

Date: Monday, February 22.

Time: 3 p.m. local time (2.30 p.m. IST, 9 a.m. GMT, 4 a.m. ET).

Venue: Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.

Match 6: Oman vs UAE

Date: Monday, February 22.

Time: 7.30 p.m. local time (7 p.m. IST, 1.30 p.m. GMT, 8.30 a.m. ET).

Venue: Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.

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