The world’s largest cricket stadium will play host to the big-ticket World Cup group match between India and Pakistan on October 15 and the gargantuan venue in Ahmedabad will also stage the grand finale on November 19, the ICC announced on Tuesday.
The tournament will begin on October 5 with a clash between defending champions England and runners-up New Zealand at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, which is the largest in the world with a seating capacity of 1,32,000 spectators — 32,000 more than the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
The two semifinals of the mega event will be played at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium and the Eden Gardens in Kolkata — both iconic venues with a rich legacy — on November 15 and 16 respectively, as per the schedule.
Ringing in the 100-day countdown to the ODI showpiece, the ICC said hosts India will begin their campaign with a mouth-watering clash against Australia on October 8 in Chennai.
With Guwahati among 12 venues picked to host the matches including warm-up games, it’s the first time the World Cup is entering northeast India.
There will be a total of 10 venues — Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Dharamsala, Delhi, Chennai, Lucknow, Pune, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Kolkata — hosting the matches during the tournament proper.
Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram in addition to Hyderabad will host the warm-up games from September 29 to October 3.
Twelve hosting associations were called in Mumbai on Monday to discuss the details and finalise the venues before Tuesday’s official announcement.
The Wankhede hosted the final of the 2011 World Cup, in which a Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led India beat Sri Lanka to end a 28-year-old title drought, while the Eden Gardens played host to the summit showdown between Australia and England in the 1987 edition, in which the former prevailed.
Pakistan had earlier asked for their match against India to be shifted to either Chennai, Bengaluru or Kolkata, but the BCCI and ICC rejected the offer.
There will be 10 teams at this year’s World Cup.As hosts, India have qualified directly, as have Afghanistan, Australia, England, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Pakistan, and South Africa through the 2020-2023 ICC Cricket World Cup Super League.
Two other teams will make it to the World Cup through the World Cup Qualifiers, which is being currently played in Zimbabwe.
Apart from former champions Sri Lanka and the West Indies, the Qualifiers also feature Ireland, Nepal, the Netherlands, Oman, Scotland, the UAE, the USA, and hosts Zimbabwe.
At the World Cup in India, the 10 teams will play each other once in a round-robin league featuring 45 matches. These will be followed by the semifinals and the final.