World Cup 2023 to start October 5, India vs Pakistan on Babar Azam's birthday | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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ICC World Cup 2023 from October 5, India vs Pakistan blockbuster on Babar Azam's birthday, Ahmedabad to host final

Jun 27, 2023 12:07 PM IST

The ICC has finally announced the schedule for the World Cup 2023 which takes place in India starting this October.

The Cricket World Cup 2023 will begin on October 5 with defending champions England taking on last edition's runner-up New Zealand in the opener at Ahmedabad, the ICC announced on Tuesday during a much-anticipated event in Mumbai. The Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad will also be the venue for the blockbuster India vs Pakistan clash on October 15, which also happens to be Babar Azam's birthday. The world's largest cricket stadium will also play host to the final on November 19, with the two semifinals to be played at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium and Kolkata's Eden Gardens on November 15 and 16 respectively.

Babar Azam's Pakistan will square off against Rohit Sharma's India on October 15.(Getty)
Babar Azam's Pakistan will square off against Rohit Sharma's India on October 15.(Getty)

All 48 matches of the World Cup will be held across 10 venues as ODI cricket's flagship tournament comes to India for the fourth time and the first since Team India's glorious 2011 World Cup triumph at home. India will be playing their matches in Chennai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Dharamsala, Lucknow, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. Surprisingly enough, the famous Rajiv Gandhi Stadium that has a capacity if 55,000 and hosted 5 Tests, 7 ODIs and 3 T20Is, is the only historic international venue where India do not have a league match scheduled. Both semis will have a reserve day.

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Eight of the 10 teams have already qualified for cricket's grand extravaganza and the remaining two will be determined as the World Cup Qualifiers progress. Each team plays the other nine in a round robin format with the top four qualifying for the knockout stage and semi-finals. Besides, the warm-up matches will take place from September 29 to October 3. Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram in addition to Hyderabad will host the warm-up matches from 29 September to 3 October.

Rohit Sharma and Co. will begin their campaign against a rampaging Australian team on October 8 at Chennai's MA Chidambaram Stadium. Barring Pakistan and Australia, India will face stiff challenge from New Zealand in Dharamsala and England at Lucknow, the only two teams who handed them a defeat at the 2019 World Cup. Against England, India lost their only league match four years ago at Edgbaston before the BlackCaps eliminated them with an 18-run win in the semifinal at Manchester in a rain-marred match that stretched over 24 hours.

The announcement comes exactly 100 days before the start of the World Cup, an unprecedented delay which promises to affect travelling plans of fans and the media contingent. Earlier, the World Cup schedule was supposed to be declared on the sidelines of the World Test Championship final before the noise surrounding it died as India and Australia played out a riveting Test at The Oval. It was reported that the reason behind its postponement was due to Pakistan's request to move two of their matches - against Australia in Bengaluru on October 20 and Afghanistan in Chennai three days later. The BCCI allegedly turned down their request, as the schedule proves.

In fact, the fixtures for the 2019 World Cup in England were declared way in advance – on April 18 – more than a year before the tournament began on may 30. This has led to an unusual lack of buzz around the tournament. For some reason, the ICC had kept the schedule under wraps with the BCCI maintaining a similar stance.

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