The marquee league match between archrivals India and Pakistan at the cricket World Cup has been confirmed for Oct. 15 at Ahmedabad, which will also host the tournament’s opening game and the final.
The International Cricket Council released the match schedule on Tuesday, less than four months before the tournament opener between defending champion England and New Zealand on Oct. 5.
The 132,000-seat Narendra Modi Stadium at Ahmedabad will host five games, including the the rematch of the 2019 final between England and New Zealand and the championship decider on Nov. 19.
“Hundreds of millions of fans around the world will be part of what we hope will be the greatest ever men’s cricket World Cup,” ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice said in a statement.
“We know in India the teams will enjoy a unique electric atmosphere concluding with the winners lifting the trophy in the biggest cricket stadium in the world in Ahmedabad.”
Ten teams will feature in the 46-day tournament which is being held across 10 cities. Besides Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Dharamsala, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Pune will host the games.
All venues will host five matches each except for Hyderabad, which will host three including two of Pakistan’s league games.
The top four teams will qualify for the semifinals, which will be played at Mumbai and Kolkata.
The Pakistan Cricket Board is yet to get its government’s clearance to travel to India due to strained political relations between the two counties. India has refused to travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup in August and September, and will instead play all its matches in Sri Lanka.
The ICC said Pakistan will not play any games in Mumbai. If Pakistan reaches the semifinals, it will play in Kolkata. If India qualifies for the last four it will play its semifinal in Mumbai, unless the match is against Pakistan.
“The PCB requires the government of Pakistan’s clearance for any tour to India, including the match venues,” PCB Communications Director Sami Ul Hasan said in a statement.
“We are liaising with our government for guidance. This position is consistent to what we had told the ICC a couple of weeks ago when they shared with us the draft schedule and sought our feedback.”
Eight teams – India, Pakistan, England, New Zealand, Australia, Afghanistan, South Africa and Bangladesh — have directly qualified for the World Cup. Two more teams will joining them from the qualifiers that are underway in Zimbabwe.
The tournament has retained the round-robin format with all teams playing against each other. All but six of the 48 games will be day-nighters.
Jay Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said it was a great honor for India to showcase the “rich diversity of our country.”
“The fervor and passion for cricket in India is unique,” Shah said. “I am sure fans both here and abroad would be looking forward to the tournament’s return to India for the first time since 2011, when our team became the first to lift the trophy on home soil.
“I wish all the teams the very best in their preparations and look forward to hosting what promises to be another exciting tournament.”
Report : Saif R Siddiqui