India-led hosts target World Cup blockbuster

India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have joined hands with the aim of putting on a memorable World Cup as cricket's showpiece event is played in South Asia for the third time.

cricket Updated: Nov 09, 2010 13:07 IST

India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have joined hands with the aim of putting on a memorable World Cup as cricket's showpiece event is played in South Asia for the third time.

A hundred days ahead of the February 17 opening ceremony in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, the International Cricket Council gave a thumbs-up to the work done by the three host nations.

"I am confident we will get a good tournament," ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat told AFP. "Preparations have been going on well and there has been good co-operation between the three host nations."With mega-events like these, there will always be something that needs to be done till the end, but we are in control of things."

The World Cup returns to the sub-continent, the nerve-centre and financial powerhouse of cricket, after India and Pakistan co-hosted the event in 1987 and were joined by Sri Lanka for the 1996 tournament.

Pakistan were also due to co-host the 2011 party, but were stripped of their rights due to security concerns in the volatile nation in the aftermath of the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in March last year.

The 43-day, 49-match tournament will be played under a new format with India hosting a majority of matches (29), including the final at the new-look Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on April 2.

Sri Lanka's 12 matches will be held at three venues, including two brand new 25,000-seater stadia in Pallekele near the hill resort of Kandy and Hambantota in the deep south.

The third venue, the existing Premadasa stadium in Colombo, is being re-built from scratch to host seven matches, including a quarter-final and semi-final.

The eight matches alloted to Bangladesh will be played at the Sher-e-Bangla cricket stadium in Mirpur on the outskirts of Dhaka and the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium in Chittagong.

India will use eight regular Test venues for its 29 matches, having re-constructed the Wankhede stadium and renovated the Eden Gardens in Kolkata and the Chidambaram stadium in Chennai.

ICC president Sharad Pawar, who also heads the tournament organising committee, said the new venues would be ready on schedule.

"I can assure everyone that they will be attending an exciting event staged in the most modern of cricket facilities," said Pawar.

"All stadia will be completed by November 30 and all playing facilities will be match-ready by December 31."

Unlike major sporting events like the Olympics where visas are exempted for accreditated personnel, everyone including players, officials, media and spectators will need visas to travel to the World Cup.

Lorgat said Pawar, a senior Indian government minister, had stepped in to ensure that visas are granted easily to genuine ticket-holders.

The safety of the tournament will be looked after by a special Security Directorate of the organising committee headed by Indian cricket board president Shashank Manohar.

The bloated 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, which drew criticism for its meandering schedule and a string of meaningless matches, forced the ICC to make drastic changes for the upcoming tournament.

The 2011 event will feature 14 teams instead of 16, it will be shortened by four days and there will be no Super Eights round after the preliminary

More importantly, teams will not be thrown out after just three matches, as crowd-pullers India and Pakistan were in 2007.

Under the new format, the teams will be divided into two groups of seven each, thereby making sure that all teams play a minimum of six matches.
The tournament will then be played on a knock-out basis with four teams from each group advancing to the quarter-finals.

Australia, seeking an unprecedented fourth successive title and a record winner's purse of four million dollars, have been drawn with Sri Lanka, Pakistan, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya in Group A.

Co-hosts India and Bangladesh, who play the tournament opener in Dhaka on February 19, will be joined by England, South Africa, West Indies, Ireland and the Netherlands in a relatively tougher Group B.

First Published: Nov 09, 2010 11:45 IST