Defending champions India will take on arch-foes Pakistan in their opening match of the ICC cricket World Cup to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand from February 14 to March 29,2015.
Placed in the relatively easy Group B,India,who won the 2011 event after defeating Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai,will start their title defence on February 15,2015.
Incidentally,India have never lost to Pakistan in any of their five World Cup clashes so far.
The Indians will complete their group fixtures against Zimbabwe at Eden Park,Auckland (on March 14). India will also play South Africa (in Melbourne on February 22),Qualifier 4 (in Perth on February 28),West Indies (in Perth on March 6) and Ireland (in Hamilton on March 10).
“It only seems like yesterday that we won the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in front of a passionate and supportive home crowd,” said India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni,who guided the team to the 2011 triumph.
“World Cup is a very special event for every cricketer because it only takes place every four years. Having tasted success in Mumbai in 2011,we’ll be working very hard to retain it.
“I’m keenly looking forward to the tournament and confident that we’ll do well. Our recent victory in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 has provided the team with a lot of confidence,and I am sure this experience will help us in our preparations for the World Cup in 2015,” he added.
The tournament will open on February 14 with co-hosts Australia and New Zealand playing their first matches in front of their home crowds. The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) will host the final on March 29.
New Zealand will square off against 1996 champions Sri Lanka in the tournament opener in Christchurch and later on the same day,under the MCG floodlights,four time former champions Australia will go head-to-head with arch-rivals England.
New Zealand will also host Australia when the two neighbouring countries lock horns in Auckland on March 28.
A total of 49 matches will be played in the 44-day tournament across 14 venues in the two countries.
Australia will stage 26 matches in Adelaide,Brisbane,Canberra,Hobart,Melbourne,Perth and Sydney,whilst the 23 matches in New Zealand will be held in Auckland,Christchurch,Dunedin,Hamilton,Napier,Nelson and Wellington,the ICC said in a statement.
The 14 sides (10 Full Members and four qualifiers),as per their rankings on the ICC ODI Rankings table on December 31,2012,have been divided into two pools.
The top four sides from each pool will progress to the quarter-finals,followed by the two semi-finals and the final.
All the knock-out matches will have reserve days.
The fixtures were announced simultaneously in Melbourne and Wellington today.
ICC President Alan Isaac,who attended the event launch in Wellington,said: “I’m delighted to be part of this historic occasion as today we officially start the countdown to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015,an event that,over the past 40 years,has become a truly global event.
“ICC events have established a unique place in the cricket calendar,and,as we’ve seen at our most recent events in Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom,players,sponsors,media,fans and supporters from all around the world want to be part continued…