Dubai: With just six months to go before the first ball of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 is bowled, the ICC has announced the schedule of warm-up matches.
The 14 warm-up matches will be played across the three host countries from February 12 to 18, 2011 with Bengaluru, Chennai, Chittagong, Colombo, Dhaka, Nagpur and Pallekele acting as host cities.
Each of the 14 competing sides will play two warm-up matches with four-time and reigning world champion Australia taking on India and South Africa on February 13 and 15 in Bengaluru.
Sri Lanka, the 1996 winner and one of the co-hosts, will go head to head with the Netherlands and the West Indies on February 12 and 16 in Pallekele and Colombo respectively.
The 1992 world champion Pakistan meets Bangladesh and England in Dhaka on February 15 and 18.
ICC President Sharad Pawar believes that next year’s event will turn out to be the most successful one.
“Today means that the start of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 is exactly six months away,” he said. “Let there be no doubt whatsoever that the ICC, along with the three co-hosts, will ensure that the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 is the best of all the World Cups staged so far,” Pawar said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal can’t wait for February 19, when his side will take on 1983 world champion India in the tournament opener.
“This will be my second ICC Cricket World Cup but definitely the one I am longing for. In front of our own fans, families and friends we have the opportunity to make the country proud and deep inside every Bangladesh cricketer is a burning desire to excel,” said the left-hander who was part of the side which upset India by five wickets in its ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 opener in Port of Spain.
Tamim said: “There is no other competition like the ICC Cricket World Cup and it is knocking at our door. Bangladesh will be the centre of the cricket world six months from now and I am excited like anyone. Just imagine what it is like for the kids aspiring to be cricketers?
He added: “The legacy of this ICC Cricket World Cup will be ours to cherish and my message to the public is to make every moment memorable and share your enjoyment with others. You may not get another chance.”
Sri Lanka’s legendary off-spinner Muttiah Muralidaran not only rated his world record 800 Test wickets as high as being a World Cup winner but also credited the 1996 glory for transforming him into a better cricketer.
“Obviously winning the tournament in the Indian sub-continent in 1996 is something I rate as highly as my 800 Test wickets and reaching the final in the West Indies three years ago was also by no means a small achievement," he said.
“I’m hoping victory in next year’s World Cup will not only strengthen our future as a cricketing nation but will also help us produce more world-class cricketers who will go on to entertain the world with their flare, talent, charisma and prowess,” he added.
Meanwhile, to commemorate the “six month months to go” milestone, the ICC announced that several exciting ticket packages are available from August 19, 2010 on its website.
The following is the schedule of warm-up matches (in line with previous ICC events none of these matches will carry official ODI status):
Saturday 12 Feb – New Zealand v Ireland (d/n), Nagpur
Saturday 12 Feb – Zimbabwe v South Africa (d/n), Chennai
Saturday 12 Feb – West Indies v Kenya (d), Colombo
Saturday 12 Feb – Sri Lanka v the Netherlands (d), Pallekele
Saturday 12 Feb – Bangladesh v Canada (d/n), Chittagong
Sunday 13 Feb – India v Australia (d/n), Bengaluru
Tuesday 15 Feb – Australia v South Africa (d/n), Bengaluru
Tuesday 15 Feb – Ireland v Zimbabwe (d), Nagpur
Tuesday 15 Feb – Kenya v the Netherlands (d), Pallekele
Tuesday 15 Feb – Bangladesh v Pakistan (d/n), Dhaka
Wednesday 16 Feb – India v New Zealand (d/n), Chennai
Wednesday 16 Feb – Sri Lanka v West Indies (d), Colombo
Wednesday 16 Feb – England v Canada (d), Dhaka
Friday 18 Feb – England v Pakistan (d/n), Dhaka