The International Cricket Council has announced the schedule for this year’s men’s Cricket World Cup in India, with confirmation that Pakistan will take part in the tournament amid long-running tensions with the host nation.
The opening match of the tournament will see defending champion England take on New Zealand on October 5 at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium, which will also host the final on November 19.
Venues in Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Dharamsala, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Pune will also stage matches during the tournament. India’s tournament will begin against Australia in Chennai on October 8.
Narendra Modi Stadium will also host the match between India and Pakistan on October 15 and Australia vs England on November 4. Eight teams have already qualified for the tournament, with the final two spots to be taken by the finalists of the Cricket World Cup qualifier taking place in Zimbabwe.
Each team will play against each other for a total of 45 league matches. Six matches will take place during the day, with all other matches, including the knockouts, to be day-night fixtures.
The semi-finals will take place in Mumbai and Kolkata. Should Pakistan reach the semi-finals, it will play in Kolkata. If India qualifies for the semi-finals, it will play in Mumbai unless it is drawn against Pakistan, in which case it will play in Kolkata.
The schedule has been confirmed at a countdown event in Mumbai, just 100 days before the tournament begins. There had been doubts over Pakistan’s participation in the tournament due to hostilities between the country and India.
Pakistan had threatened to pull out of the World Cup after India said it would not travel to Pakistan to take part in the Asia Cup, which will run from August 31 to September 17. Earlier this month, it was announced that Sri Lanka will co-host the Asia Cup alongside Pakistan to enable India’s participation.
The Asia Cup will mark the first major multi-nation cricket tournament in Pakistan since 2008 – the last time India played in the country. Pakistan has not played in India since the 2016 T20 World Cup.
Following the confirmation of the Cricket World Cup schedule, ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice said: “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 and 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.”
Jay Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), added: “It’s a matter of great honour and pride to be hosting the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in different cities across India, showcasing the rich diversity of our country.
“The fervour and passion for cricket in India is unique. 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.”
Meanwhile, Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium is set to undergo renovation work ahead of the Cricket World Cup.
Upgrades will include new LED floodlights and revamped hospitality spaces. As well as a semi-final, Wankhede Stadium will host England vs South Africa, South Africa vs Bangladesh, Australia vs Afghanistan, and India vs a to-be-determined qualifier.
In other news, plans are progressing for a new 30,000-capacity cricket stadium in the Indian city of Varanasi, with reports suggesting that the venue could open by the end of 2024. The BCCI would operate and manage the stadium as part of a long-term lease agreement.