Ahmedabad, JUN 27: India will host Pakistan’s cricket team for the first time in seven years for the 50-over World Cup, the International Cricket Council said on Tuesday.
The tournament will begin on October 5 with holders England taking on New Zealand at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, which will also host the final.
The schedule was announced after weeks of delay due to Pakistan’s refusal to travel to India, but a truce was called after Pakistan agreed to host the Asia Cup in September in a hybrid model.
The most-awaited clash between rivals India and Pakistan will be played in Ahmedabad on October 15, after the hosts kick off their campaign against Australia on October 8.
“Each team plays the other nine in a round-robin format with the top four qualifying for the knockout stage and semi-finals,” the ICC said in a statement 100 days before the tournament begins.
PCB still uncertain of participation
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said their team would require clearance from Islamabad to play.
“We are liaising with our government for guidance,” PCB Communications Director Samiul Hasan said.
“This position is consistent to what we had told the ICC a couple of weeks ago when they shared with us the draft schedule and sought our feedback,” he said.
India and Pakistan are bitter adversaries and only play cricket against each other in international tournaments, usually at neutral venues, due to longstanding political tensions, most recently during the T20 World Cup in Australia last year.
Any match between the South Asian neighbours, therefore, becomes one of the most-watched events on the global sporting calendar, and any victory is used to promote nationalism at home.
When they do play, cricket fans around the world are glued to their TV screens in a multi-billion-dollar bonanza for broadcasters.
The 2019 50-over World Cup clash between India and Pakistan drew 273 million viewers.
India and Pakistan have not met on either side’s soil in a bilateral series since 2012.
They have also not played a Test against each other since 2007, instead meeting only in the shorter versions of the game.
This year’s World Cup will mark Pakistan’s first cricket trip to India since the T20 World Cup in 2016.
India last won the ODI World Cup on home soil in 2011. Since then, Australia and England have won the title in their own backyards in 2015 and 2019 respectively.