New Delhi: The format of this month`s cricket World Cup was tweaked to give India and other big teams a better chance of advancing in the tournament, a top organiser said on Wednesday.
Tournament director Ratnakar Shetty described the early exit of India and Pakistan from the last World Cup, played in the Caribbean, as a "disaster" for the event and said the format was altered to avoid a repeat.
The quarter-final format, first used in 1996 before being discarded, has been revived this time to ensure each team plays a minimum of six group-stage matches even if they do not make the next round.
In the 2007 World Cup, teams were divided into four groups of four each with the top two advancing to the Super-Eights league round before the semi-finals.
In the upcoming tournament, the 14 teams are in two groups with the top four in each qualifying for the knock-out rounds.
"I will not be honest if I say no," Shetty told a website when asked if the format had been designed to favour a top team like India.
"Economically, we all know that India is the financial powerhouse of cricket. The exit of India and Pakistan from the 2007 World Cup was a disaster for the tournament."
"The sponsors, broadcasters, tour operators, West Indies board -- all lost a lot of money. The format was changed in such a way that it gives all the top teams a chance to compete."
Shetty, who is also the chief administrative officer of the Indian cricket board, sought to allay security fears which usually dog high-profile tournaments in the sub-continent.
"The sub-continent has its own share of issues, with the biggest challenge being security," he said. "It is slightly different from how it would be if the tournament was to be staged in England or Australia."
"Things have changed in the last two years," he said. "The police have a mechanism of continuously monitoring the security issues."
"The threat perception varies from team to team, and that is an aspect that is being looked into by the central government."
The World Cup, being co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, starts on February 19.