Hosts to play quarter-final matches at home: ICC

Dhaka: Hosts India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will play their knock-out matches at home if they advance to the quarterfinal stage of the World Cup, International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat said on Friday.

Lorgat also said that if two host nations face each other, the side placed higher in the pre-tournament seeding will get preference, which means India will play all its
knock-out ties on home soil if they get past the preliminary stage.

"I can confirm that the three host countries will play the knock-out rounds on their own grounds," Lorgat told reporters ahead of Saturday`s tournament opener between India and Bangladesh in Mirpur.

ICC`s decision means the original schedule, according to which the specific World Cup quarterfinal matches were marked, will be changed depending on where the hosts finish.

As per the schedule, the quarter-final matches are as follow: A1 v B4 (Mirpur), A2 v B3 (Ahmedabad), A3 v B2 (Mirpur) and A4 v B1 (Colombo).

But now, as per the decision, India will play its quarterfinal match in Ahmedabad, irrespective of where they finish in Group B. The March 24 quarterfinal at the Gujarat city is between third-placed team in group B and the second team in group A.

So if India finish second, they will take on the third-placed team from group A. But even if Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s men do not finish third in group B, they will still
play in Ahmedabad against a side which will not know their venue till the last league match ends on March 20.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will play their final eight match in Colombo on March 26, unless they face India. In such a scenario India will get pre-tournament seeding preference and will play in Ahmedabad.

Similarly, Bangladesh will play their quarter-final match at Dhaka on either March 23 or March 25 -- first if they qualify, and secondly if they are not drawn up against either India or Sri Lanka.

ICC`s host country rule will also hold good for the semi-finals clashes in Colombo and Mohali on March 29 and 30 respectively.

Meanwhile, talking about ICC`s decision to tinker with the format in 2015 edition of the World Cup, Lorgat said that the lower-ranked sides won`t be a part of the 50-over game in future as it demanded more skills from the players.

Lorgat said the ICC has decided to cut down the number of teams in the 50-over World Cup to 10 from the current 14 and make the World Twenty20 tournament an affair involving 16 sides instead of 12.

"We have felt in the past few years that Twenty20 is the best format to develop the game world-wide and it provides a better environment for competition," Lorgat said ahead of the tournament opener between India and Bangladesh on Saturday.

"The 50-over format is more skill-based and suitable for
the top teams," he added.

The governing body`s decision on team reduction was taken last year and is set to exclude the likes of non-Test playing nations like Kenya, Ireland and the Netherlands from the 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2015.

Lorgat`s views have not gone down well with the lowly-ranked sides and Cricket Kenya chief executive Tom Sears has already expressed his displeasure in an interview with the Wisden Cricketer magazine.

"I`ve no desire to be diplomatic... Not to let anyone else in is scandalous. It`s all about money, power and votes -- and that`s not good for cricket," he said.


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