DUBAI: Fierce rivals India and Pakistan will clash on Oct 24 at this year’s Twenty20 World Cup, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Tuesday as the delayed tournament’s fixtures were announced.

The tournament, which will be hosted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), was originally meant to take place in Australia at the end of 2020. But it was called off as the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic swept across the globe.

It was meant to be held in India this year, but was moved to the United Arab Emirates and Oman after the South Asian giant was hit by a massive surge in virus cases in April and May.

The ICC released the full draw for both stages of the 16-team tournament — to be held in the United Arab Emirates and Oman — and which will begin on Oct 17 with Oman taking on Papua New Guinea in the opener followed by an evening match between Scotland and Bangladesh in round one of the competition.

Bangladesh and 2014 T20 World Cup champions Sri Lanka are among eight teams involved in the first stage, which will feature double-headers on six days at venues in Muscat, Oman, and Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in the UAE.

The matches will be held across four venues — the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, and the Oman Cricket Academy Ground.

The four leading teams in the first stage will make it to the Super 12 round, joining tournament host India and seven other automatic qualifiers. The Super 12 round will run from Oct 23 to Nov 8 and the top two teams in each group will advance to the semi-finals to be played at Abu Dhabi on Nov 10 and at Dubai on Nov 11. Dubai will host the final on Nov 14.

Australia will play South Africa and holders West Indies — the only side to win this title twice —meet England in Group 1 matches on Oct 23 at the start of the Super 12.

But the spotlight will be on the Super 12 Group 2 India-Pakistan contest in Dubai, with the two rival countries only meeting in multi-nation events due to tensions over Kashmir. While India won the inaugural global T20 competition in 2007 after defeating Pakistan in the final at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, Pakistan were champions of the 2009 event in England where they upstaged Sri Lanka in the decider at Lord’s.

The two Asian giants last met at the 2019 50-over World Cup in England, where India won — mai­ntaining their unbeaten record against Pakistan in World Cups.

England, the 2010 winners, will take on Australia, who have won the 50-overs World Cup a record five times but have failed to lift the trophy in the T20 format, in another key clash on Oct 30 in Dubai.

“The standard of T20 cricket around the world is improving exponentially and every nation has a chance of becoming World champions,” said England captain Eoin Morgan, who led the side to the 50-overs title at home in 2019. “It should be one of the closest and most competitive world tournaments to date and we can’t wait to get started.”

West Indies T20 captain Kieron Pollard said his team was excited to begin the defence of the title after a year-long delay in the tournament.

“We can’t wait to get started,” he said. “West Indian cricketers have always played an exciting brand of cricket and I am sure our fans in the Caribbean and all over the world are highly anticipating seeing us in action.”

Virat Kohli’s India will have a packed schedule leading into the tournament. India’s Test side is playing a series in England now and most players will return for the second half of the Indian Premier League, which is set to resume in the UAE next month after being suspended in May as coronavirus cases surged in India.

Schedule

First round:

Group ‘A’: Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands, Namibia.

Group ‘B’: Bangladesh, Oman, Scotland, Papua New Guinea,

Oct 17: Oman vs Papua New Guinea (Muscat, 3:00pm PST); Bangladesh vs Scotland (Muscat, 7:00pm PST).

Oct 18: Ireland vs Netherlands (Abu Dhabi, 3:00pm PST); Sri Lanka vs Namibia (Abu Dhabi, 7:00pm PST).

Oct 19: Scotland vs Papua New Guinea (Muscat, 3:00pm PST); Oman vs Bangladesh (Muscat, 7:00pm PST).

Oct 20: Netherlands vs Namibia (Abu Dhabi, 3:00pm PST); Sri Lanka vs Ireland (Abu Dhabi, 7:00pm).

Oct 21: Bangladesh vs Papua New Guinea (Muscat, 3:00pm PST); Oman vs Scotland (Muscat, 7:00pm PST).

Oct 22: Ireland vs Namibia (Sharjah, 3:00pm PST); Sri Lanka vs Netherlands (Sharjah, 7:00pm PST).

Super 12 round:

Group 1: England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, A1, B2.

Group 2: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, A2, B1.

Oct 23: Australia vs South Africa (Abu Dhabi, 3:00pm PST); England vs West Indies (Dubai, 7:00pm PST).

Oct 24: A1 vs B2 (Sharjah, 3:00pm PST); India vs Pakistan (Dubai, 7:00pm PST).

Oct 25: Afghanistan vs B1 (Sharjah, 7:00pm PST).

Oct 26: South Africa vs West Indies (Dubai, 3:00pm PST); Pakistan vs New Zealand (Sharjah, 7:00pm PST).

Oct 27: England vs B2 (Abu Dhabi, 3:00pm PST); B1 vs A2 (Abu Dhabi, 7:00pm PST).

Oct 28: Australia vs A1 (Dubai, 7:00pm PST).

Oct 29: West Indies vs B2 (Sharjah, 3:00pm PST); Pakistan vs Afghanistan (Dubai, 7:00pm PST).

Oct 30: South Africa vs A1 (Sharjah, 3:00pm PST); Australia vs England (Dubai, 7:00pm PST).

Oct 31: Afghanistan vs A2 (Abu Dhabi, 3:00pm PST); India vs New Zealand (Dubai, 7:00pm PST).

Nov 1: England vs A1 (Sharjah, 7:00pm PST).

Nov 2: South Africa vs B2 (Abu Dhabi, 3:00pm PST); Pakistan vs A2 (Abu Dhabi, 7:00pm PST).

Nov 3: New Zealand vs B1 (Dubai, 3:00pm PST); India vs Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi, 7:00pm PST).

Nov 4: Australia vs B2 (Dubai, 3:00pm PST); West Indies vs A1 (Abu Dhabi, 7:00pm PST).

Nov 5: New Zealand vs A2 (Sharjah, 3:00pm PST); India vs B2 (Dubai, 7:00pm PST).

Nov 6: Australia vs West Indies (Abu Dhabi, 3:00pm PST); England vs South Africa (7:00pm PST).

Nov 7: New Zealand vs Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi, 3:00pm PST); Pakistan vs B1 (Sharjah, 7:00pm PST).

Nov 8: India vs A2 (Abu Dhabi, 7:00pm PST).

Nov 10: First semi-final — Group 1 Winners vs Group 2 Runners-up (Abu Dhabi, 7:00pm PST).

Nov 11: Second semi-final — Group 2 Winners vs Group 1 Runners-up (Dubai, 7:00pm PST).

Nov 14: Final (Dubai, 7:00pm PST).

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2021

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