India to begin World Cup campaign against Australia: report

Men in Blue
India will hope to regain the World Cup after a gap of 12 years. File photo: AFP.Noah Seelam

New Delhi: It has emerged that India's opening match of the ICC World Cup will be against five-time winners Australia.

A report in Cricbuzz says India's opening match against Australia in all likelihood will be in Chennai. It added that the blockbuster game against Pakistan will be on October 15, which is a Sunday, like the final on November 19.

The tournament is likely to start with the England-New Zealand clash, also a rematch of the 2019 final, at the Narendra Modi Stadium on October 5, with the final to be held at the same venue.

"The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is expected to come up with the schedule soon, most likely after the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), after obtaining the formal approval from all concerned. As the host, the BCCI of course could have the final say on the dates and venues," said the report.

The report also confirmed that Pakistan has agreed to tour India for the World Cup despite the standoff over Asia Cup, though it said few concerns have emerged. "Majorly, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is understood to be having reservations over playing the big game against India in Ahmedabad and that could be one of the reasons, it is being assumed, why Najam Sethi, the chairman of the PCB, visited the ICC office in Dubai over the last couple of days."

"Having agreed in principle to come to India for the quadrennial championship, the PCB chief seems to be asking for a few changes to the venues of its matches as a face-saver. However, it is learnt that the PCB has agreed to play the final in Ahmedabad, should its team reach the title clash," it added.

The report further said Pakistan will play its games as per the tentative schedule in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru, along with Kolkata, Delhi, Indore, Dharamsala, Guwahati, Rajkot, Raipur and Mumbai being other designated venues with Mohali and Nagpur missing out from the list.

"The Wankhede (Stadium) in Mumbai is likely to get a semifinal. Each team will play nine league games which means most centres, if not all, will get an India game each," it added.

The World Cup will feature 10 teams and a total of 48 matches will be played. India, England, Australia, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and South Africa have earned direct qualification.

The last two spots will be filled through a qualifying tournament from June 18 to July 9 in Zimbabwe in which two World Cup winners, West Indies and Sri Lanka, will compete alongside the Netherlands, Ireland, Nepal, Oman, Scotland, the UAE and hosts Zimbabwe.

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