The 14 captains all have their eyes on the glittering World Cup trophy
The 2011 Cricket World Cup begins in the Indian subcontinent on Saturday, with one of the most closely fought competitions in the event's 36-year history predicted, reports the BBC.
The 14 teams are divided into two groups of seven and after a round-robin section the top four from each group will go through to the quarter-finals.
Co-hosts India and Bangladesh contest the opening match in Mirpur (0830 GMT).
Defending champions Australia face Zimbabwe on Monday and England begin against the Netherlands on Tuesday.
The 2011 tournament, which takes place over the next six weeks in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, is seen as pivotal to the future of the 50-over game, which some believe is under threat because of the enormous popularity of Twenty20 cricket.
There was huge criticism of the protracted 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean which saw group stages followed by a round-robin Super Eight phase before the two semi-finals, and comprised 51 matches in total.
This time around there will be no Super Eight phase, and each team will be guaranteed at least six matches, which the organisers hope will mean less chance of one of the leading nations suffering a shock early elimination, as happened to India and Pakistan four years ago.
The decision to stage the tournament in 13 different stadiums across three countries has presented organisers with considerable logistical and security challenges.
India, still smarting from the chaotic build-up to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last year, suffered a further blow to its image when inspectors declared that Kolkata's iconic Eden Gardens would not be ready for the high-profile showdown between India and England on 27 February.
Another setback occurred on Friday when the Mumbai Stadium that will host the World Cup final failed a fire safety inspection.
England goes into the tournament chastened by a 6-1 series defeat to Australia and the loss of key batsman, Eoin Morgan.
With four teams qualifying from each seven-team group, qualification for a quarter-final should be a formality, but captain, Andrew Strauss admitted his team's narrow 16-run warm-up win over Canada proved nothing could be taken for granted.
"The conditions here a lot different from what we faced in Australia recently," he said. "The key will be how quickly a side can adapt to the conditions.
"Our game against Canada showed there will be no easy fixtures at the World Cup, which will go to make a great tournament."
India is seeking to win the tournament for the second time, having triumphed in 1983, to provide star batsman, Sachin Tendulkar with the fitting farewell in what will be his last World Cup.
Australia captain, Ricky Ponting, fit again after a broken finger that caused him to miss the final Ashes Test and the one-day series, believes his team has a good chance of retaining their title despite a difficult recent period.