ICC 2015 World Cup: India start title defence against arch-rivals Pakistan

Melbourne: India will lock horns with archrivals Pakistan to start their title defence in the 2015 World Cup to be hosted jointly by Australia and New Zealand.

The event starts from 14 February with the co-hosts Australia and New Zealand in action against their respective opponents at home.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground will host the final of the 2015 cricket World Cup, 23 years after a bumper crowd at the 100,000-seat stadium saw Pakistan defeat England in the 1992 final.

The March 29 final follows semi-finals at the Sydney Cricket Ground and Auckland`s Eden Park, organisers said on Tuesday.

Christchurch, which has scrambled to rebuild facilities in the wake of a ruinous earthquake in 2011, has provisionally been awarded three pool matches in the tournament hosted by Australia and New Zealand from February 14 to March 29.

Local cricket authorities have submitted plans for a redevelopment of Hagley Park in New Zealand`s second largest city, and are awaiting the outcome of an Environment Court hearing as to whether they can proceed.

If approved, the city would host the opening match of the tournament between 1996 World Cup champions Sri Lanka and New Zealand on February 14.

"We haven`t had international cricket, test matches for five years and one dayers for three years so we just have to get the Environment Court to okay it to get cricket back to Christchurch," former New Zealand bowler Richard Hadlee told local television at the New Zealand launch of the event.

"It`s important for the city, for the people and for youngsters too who idolise the players. It gives them the chance to see them and those three games will be hugely critical."

Organisers said the pool matches would be split evenly between both countries with seven cities hosting three pool matches each.

"The last World Cup was the most successful ever... We decided that every team should play in both countries and that`s what we`ve gone and done," CWC 2015 chief executive John Harnden said.

“A total of 49 matches will be played in the 44-day tournament across 14 venues in the two countries. Australia will stage 26 matches in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, whilst the 23 matches in New Zealand will be held in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Napier, Nelson and Wellington,” International Cricket Council (ICC) said in a media release on Tuesday

Australia`s Sydney Cricket Ground, Adelaide Oval and the MCG would host three of the quarter-finals, while Wellington would host the fourth quarter-final.

The 2015 World Cup will feature the 10 full member nations of the International Cricket Council plus Ireland, who have won qualification, and three other nations.

Two of the teams will be determined via a qualifying tournament in New Zealand in January 2014.

Each of the 14 teams had been divided into two pools where they play each other in a round-robin format before the top four from each pool qualify for the quarter-finals.


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