NEW DELHI: The Indian cricket team will play its first match of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup against South Africa on June 5 instead of June 2 as the BCCI will have to maintain a mandatory 15-day gap between IPL final and international assignment as per the Lodha Committee recommendation.
India, who have never lost to Pakistan in World Cup, will square off against the arch-rivals on June 16 in Manchester. The matter was discussed during the ongoing five-day ICC Chief Executives Meeting in Kolkata.
India, who won the World Cup in 2011 and reached the semi-finals in 2015, will be the hot-favourites for the title.
Interestingly, ICC, in their various marquee events, have started with an Indo-Pak fixture in the past which is almost always a sell-out. It happened in the 2015 World Cup in Australia (at Adelaide) and the 2017 Champions Trophy in UK (in Birmingham).
“This is the first time an Indo-Pak match won’t be a starting affair. Since the format will be a round robin affair (all teams playing each other like 1992),” a senior BCCI official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
The ten-team World Cup is scheduled to run from May 30 to July 14, 2019 at 12 venues across England and Wales. It will span 48 matches in all, of which 45 will make up the group stage. Each team will play nine group stage matches, and the top four will progress to the knockouts, similar to how the 1992 Benson & Hedges World Cup was held.
The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had been awarded the 2019 World Cup in 2006 following its withdrawal from the bidding to host the 2015 World Cup. This is the first time since 1999 that a World Cup is being held in the UK. England hosted the first three World Cup tournaments in 1975, 1979 and 1983.
“The 2019 IPL will be played between March 29 and May 19. But we need to maintain a 15-day gap and World Cup starts on May 30. Therefore as per 15 day gap we could have only played on June 5. Earlier, we were scheduled to start on June 2 but we couldn’t have played on that day,” the official said.
“South Africa are our first opponents. The CEC agreed and the matter has been referred to the ICC board,” he further added.
Interestingly, ICC in their various marquee events have always started with an Indo-Pak fixture which is a sure-shot sell-out. It happened in the 2015 World Cup in Australia (at Adelaide) and 2017 Champions Trophy in UK (in Birmingham).
“This is the first time Indo-Pak match won’t be a starting affair. Since the format will be a round robin affair (all teams playing each other like 1992),” the official added.
Among the other decisions that were formalised included the FTP for the next five year cycle from 2019-23.
“As we had decided, India will play a maximum 309 days of international cricket in this cycle across formats, a reduction of 92 days from the earlier cycle.
“However the number of home Test matches will increase from 15 to 19. All these Tests will be part of the World Test Championship,” he added.
It was also confirmed that India will not play any Day/Night Test match for now as it’s not a part of World Test Championship.
“All matches in ICC World Test Championship are day matches played with red ball. If that’s the case, there is no point in playing pink ball Tests if it doesn’t help in preparation for World Test Championship,” he concluded.