The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday reportedly admitted to tweaking draws so as to pit India against Pakistan in major tournaments, The Telegraph reported.
The report comes in hours after the announcement that India will begin their ICC Champions Trophy title defence with a Group B clash against arch-rivals Pakistan. The two nations will play each other in Edgbaston on June 4. The 2017 tournament will be held in England.
“No doubt we want to try to put India versus Pakistan in our event… It’s hugely important from an ICC point of view. It’s massive around the world and the fans have come to expect it as well. It’s fantastic for the tournament because it gives it a massive kick.”
Richardson, however, denied that it had a negative impact on the integrity or fairness of the tournament.
“What we try and do is make sure that when you add up the rankings of the different groups, they all add up to the same number of points. You can do that in a number of ways. So long as the pools are balanced, it’s silly to avoid [the fixture] when you can fairly cater for it,” he told The Telegraph.
Second in importance only to the World Cup and featuring the top eight teams in the world, the 2013 edition was supposed to be the last but the ICC decided it should continue. This will be the fifth edition in succession where India and Pakistan are scheduled to meet in the group stage.
The eighth tournament will feature 15 matches across three venues in England and Wales with The Oval hosting the June 18 final.
Hosts England will take on fast-improving Bangladesh in the June 1 opener, also at The Oval, according to the fixture schedule.
Group A also contains twice winners Australia, who begin their campaign against trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand in a repeat of last year’s World Cup final in Melbourne in which the hosts prevailed.
Apart from India and Pakistan, Group B also includes former champions Sri Lanka and South Africa. The top two from each group progress to the semi-finals at Cardiff and Edgbaston on June 14 and June 15 respectively.
“Having won the event in 2013, we know how intense this event can be and we are under no illusion that it will be any different next year,” Mahendra Singh Dhoni said in an ICC statement.
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