India to face Pakistan in World Cup opener, Melbourne to host final
Defending champions India will take on arch-foes Pakistan in their opening match of the 2015 ICC cricket World Cup to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand from February 14 to March 29.
Placed in the relatively easy Group B, India, who won the 2011 event after defeating Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai, will start their title defence on February 15.
Incidentally, India have never lost to Pakistan in any of their five World Cup clashes so far.
The Indians will complete their group fixtures against Zimbabwe at Eden Park, Auckland (on March 14). India will also play South Africa (in Melbourne on February 22), Qualifier 4 (in Perth on February 28), West Indies (in Perth on March 6) and Ireland (in Hamilton on March 10).
"It only seems like yesterday that we won the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in front of a passionate and supportive home crowd," said India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who guided the team to the 2011 triumph.
Hosts in same group
Co-hosts of the 2015 Cricket World Cup, Australia and New Zealand, have been drawn in the same group for the tournament, while title-holders India will face off against long-time rival Pakistan, officials said on Tuesday.
The first match of the prestigious one-day tournament will be held in Christchurch, the New Zealand city devastated by an earthquake in 2011, when the locals take on Sri Lanka on February 14.
The day-night final match will be at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 29.
Australia and New Zealand are grouped with England, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and two qualifiers.
Title-holders India are pooled with Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland and one other qualifying team.
The top four sides from each pool will go through to the knockout stage.
Forty-nine matches will be played in 14 venues across the two host nations, with Australia staging 26 games at grounds in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
New Zealand will host 23 games in seven cities, including Christchurch where international cricket is set to return for the first time since the 6.3-magnitude quake, which killed 185 people in 2011.
Other New Zealand cities to host games are Auckland, Dunedin, Hamilton, Napier, Nelson and Wellington.