MELBOURNE: India and Pakistan will lock horns in a blockbuster T20 World Cup group clash for the second year running after the fixtures for the October-November 2022 tournament in Australia were announced on Friday.

The arch-rivals will lock horns at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 23, a day after Australia begin the defence of their Twenty20 World Cup title against New Zealand in Sydney in a re-run of last year’s final in Dubai where Aaron Finch’s team won their maiden crown.

The 16-nation tournament will begin on October 16 with Sri Lanka facing Namibia in Geelong — one of seven venues as Australia hosts for the first time.

“Our planning was ultra-detailed last time and knowing what the groups look like nine months out is really helpful because it can help your level of detail in that planning phase more and more,” Finch said.

“It’s a tough group though, and when you throw in qualifiers like the West Indies and Sri Lanka, you’ve got to play really well to get out of that group stage.”

The top two teams from both Group ‘A’ and Group ‘B’ in the preliminary first round will join the automatically qualified nations in the Super 12 stage.

The hosts have been drawn in Group 1 of the Super 12 phase of the competition alongside New Zealand as well as England, Afghanistan, the winners of Group ‘A’ and runners up in Group ‘B’ from the first round.

Group 2 will feature India, Pakistan, South Africa, Bangla­desh plus the Group ‘B’ winners and Group ‘A’ runners-up.

The spotlight will be on the Group 2 India-Pakistan contest at the MCG, with the two in recent years only meeting in multi-nation events due to tensions over the disputed border territory of Kashmir.

Pakistan recorded their first win over India in World Cups last year in Dubai when they hammered Virat Kohli’s team.

The Sydney Cricket Ground will host the first semi-final on November 9 while the second last-four clash will be held at the Adelaide Oval. The final will be played at the MCG on November 13 under lights.

The tournament will begin with a six-day preliminary stage of two four-team groups.

Sri Lanka and Namibia in Group ‘A’, and West Indies and Scotland in Group ‘B’ will be joined by four qualifiers yet to be determined.

Australia had been due to host the T20 World Cup in 2020 but it was delayed two years because of the coronavirus pandemic with India retaining the 2021 edition — though that edition had to be shifted to Dubai because of Covid.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2022

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