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India to open 2011 World Cup campaign against Bangladesh

India will clash with Bangladesh in the opening match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in Dhaka on February 19, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Monday.

The first match takes place two days after the opening ceremony of the 14-nation showpiece at the same venue in Dhaka on February 17, according to the schedule released by the ICC.

The final of the 43-day tournament, being co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, will take place at the renovated Wankhede stadium in India’s financial capital of Mumbai on April 2.

The teams have been divided into two groups of seven each for the preliminary league, with the top four from each group advancing to the quarter-finals.

Defending champions Australia head group A which includes Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and two qualifiers, Canada and Kenya.

The other group comprises India, South Africa, England, West Indies, Bangladesh and qualifiers Ireland, Netherlands.

India will host 29 matches at eight venues, Sri Lanka 12 at three venues and Bangladesh eight at two places, after Pakistan were removed as co-hosts by the ICC due to security fears in the volatile nation.

Pakistan, who were wary of playing in India due to political tensions between the two nations, will play its six league matches in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka will host five of its matches at two new venues in southern Hambantota and Pallekele, near the hill town of Kandy, where cricket stadiums are under construction.

The remaining seven games in the island nation will be held at the Premadasa stadium in Colombo.

India has picked eight regular Test centres — Mumbai, Mohali, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi — for its matches.

The Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka will host six matches and the opening ceremony, while two games will be played in the port city of Chittagong.

The 2011 event is a week shorter than the one held in the Caribbean in 2007 and will have 49 matches, two less than the previous tournament.

“This announcement is an important indicator of the excellent progress we are making towards our flagship event which brings together teams from all our members in nation-versus-nation action,” ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.

“Preparation of venues and safety and security planning continues, and I am confident that the host countries will showcase our great sport with its great spirit in the best possible light.”

ICC vice-president Sharad Pawar, who is chairman of the organising committee, said he looked forward to a great tournament.

“The sub-continent offers some great facilities for the cricketers, spectators, sponsors and media, with some brand new stadia to be built and others to be upgraded,” said Pawar.

“The schedule will allow the venues to focus on the task at hand to plan and implement their preparations, and ensure they are ready to welcome the world to this beautiful, historic and cricket-loving region in 2011.”

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