ICC World Cup 2015
Australia and New Zealand
The ICC ODI World Cup returns to arguably its most picturesque location- Australia and New Zealand- 23 years after a capacity crowd at the MCG watched 39 year old Imran Khan lift the crystal trophy in 1992.
The schedule was declared early on Tuesday in a star-studded event, when ex South African Wicketkeeper and ICC CEO Dave Richardson joined many other luminaries like Mike Hussey, Jayasuriya, Gilchrist, Kapil Dev and Lillee on stage to announce the format.
Once again, MCG will host the final- with the semis allotted to Sydney and Auckland. 49 ODI matches will be played across 14 cities in February and March ’15, with the format remaining the same as the 2011 World Cup. 14 teams have been divided into 2 groups. Four teams each out of the groups of 7 will advance to the quarterfinals. In most cases (except 2007), these will be the 8 test playing nations, unless Bangladesh or Ireland make great strides in the next 18 months.
The first match of the World Cup will be played between New Zealand and Sri Lanka on Valentines’ Day at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch. Australia will start their campaign against England on the same day at the MCG- a match that could set the tone for the Ashes rivals’ campaigns after back-to-back Ashes in 2013.
The mother of all world cup contests once again- India v/s Pakistan will take place the next day at the Adelaide Oval. Tickets for this 15th February game could be snapped up faster than an Afridi retirement. Pakistan is yet to beat India in any World Cup game, losing all 4 over the years.
What raised eyebrows was the division of teams into the two groups:
Exactly like CT 2013- with England, Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand being the major teams in Group A along with Bangladesh and 2 Qualifiers.
Group B will, again, consist of India, Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies. Zimbabwe, Ireland and another qualifier will round up the group. In short, the group stage will resemble the Champions Trophy Group stages- where India remained the only unbeaten team. Australia’s test summer has been cut short to only 4 tests against India to accommodate the ICC event, where India will begin as defending Champions.
The final will take place on March 29th, 2015- marking 40 years since the first ever World Cup took place in 1975.