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India,Pak in same group for WT20, to clash on March 19

Arch-rivals India and Pakistan were on Friday placed in the same group for next year’s ICC World Twenty20, setting the stage for a high-voltage clash between the two sides on March 19 in Dharamsala.

The ICC on Friday unveiled the groups and schedule of the event, which will be staged across eight venues in India from March 8 to April 3.

The two countries are currently undecided on whether to engage in a bilateral series later this month owing to political tensions.

India will open their campaign against New Zealand on March 15 in Nagpur before taking on Pakistan. India’s other matches will be against the qualifying Group A winners in Bengaluru on March 23 and Australia in Mohali on March 27.

A total of 58 matches, including 35 men’s and 23 women’s games, will be played in the 27-day tournament in Bengaluru, Chennai, Dharamsala, Kolkata, Mohali, Mumbai, Nagpur and New Delhi. New Delhi and Mumbai will host the semi-finals on March 30 and 31, respectively, while Eden Gardens in Kolkata will be the venue of the April 3 finals.

ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar, who attended the launch ceremony in Mumbai, said, “India is a country where cricket is a religion and not many places can match the passion for the game like India. I am fully confident that the Board of Control for Cricket in India will deliver an outstanding world cricket event, just like the ICC Cricket World Cups in 1987, 1996 and 2011.”

“The ICC and BCCI are fully committed and will work together to make this a memorable event. I invite fans from across the world to witness fast-paced cricketing action on the field and enjoy the hospitality and culture of India, off it.” BCCI Secretary Anurag Thakur promised a well-organised World Cup. “We, as hosts, are fully prepared to organise one of the most entertaining spectacles in world cricket. We draw experience from hosting three ICC Cricket World Cups and are ready to make the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016 one of the most memorable events.

“Our preparations are in full swing, and BCCI and ICC is working together to make it a lifetime experience for the players and the fans. India is a vibrant country young, full of colour, energy and exuberance - and is very much like the concept of Twenty20 cricket itself. We would encourage everyone involved with the game to experience the best of India,” he said.

The women’s semi-finals and final will be followed by the men’s knock-out matches. There is a reserve day for the finals.

The men’s event will carry a total prize money of USD 5.6 million, which is an 86 per cent increase from the 2014 tournament, while the total prize money for the women’s event is USD 400,000, which is a 122 per cent increase from the Bangladesh event.

There have been five different winners of the men’s event while the England women’s team won the inaugural tournament at home in 2009 before Australia won three straight titles in the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in 2010, 2012 and 2014, respectively.

According to the men’s event format, eight sides in two groups of four, will feature in the first round matches with the group winners joining eight sides in the Super 10 stage (two groups of five teams).
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