The ICC has announced the schedule for the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier which will take place in the United Arab Emirates from 13 to 24 March.

Sixteen countries will feature in the 12-day tournament which will be played at five venues - Dubai International Cricket Stadium and ICC Global Cricket Academy grounds No.1 and No.2 in Dubai, Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Stadium and Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

The 16 teams have been divided into two groups:

  • Group A: Afghanistan, Netherlands, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Denmark, Nepal.
  • Group B: Ireland, Kenya, Scotland, Namibia, Uganda, Oman, Italy, USA.

The tournament winner will join Australia and the West Indies in group B of the ICC World Twenty20 2012 in September 2012 while the losing finalist will complete Group A which also includes defending champion England and 2007 winner India.

ICC's Global Development Manager, Tim Anderson, said: 'This is one of the most important and prestigious events on the Pepsi ICC Development Programme's calendar in which 16 leading Associate and Affiliate Members will vie for the two available places in the ICC World Twenty20 2012 Sri Lanka.

'This final qualifier is the last step of a pathway that comprised 13 ICC regional tournaments during 2010 and 2011 and saw the involvement of over 90 ICC Associate and Affiliate members. The 72-match format has been designed to give the best sides every chance of making the final.'

This will be the third ICC World Twenty20 qualifier. When it was last staged, also in the UAE in 2010, Afghanistan and Ireland claimed the qualifying spots.

Tournament format

T sides that top the two groups will feature in the 1st Qualifying Final at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday 22 March at 1400 (local time) with the winner sealing its place in the 2012 World Twenty20.

Meanwhile, the sides that finish second and third in the two groups will play cross-over matches. The two winners of those matches will progress to the Preliminary Final to be played on 23 March at 1000 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

The 2nd Qualifying Final - for the second spot in the World Twenty20 - will take place on the morning of 24 March at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium between the loser of the 1st Qualifying Final and the winner of the Preliminary Final.

The winners of the two Qualifying Finals will play in the tournament final on the evening of 24 March at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.