India meets Pakistan in its Champions Trophy opening match


LONDON: Defending champion India will take on Pakistan in its opening match at next year’s Champions Trophy.

The ICC announced Wednesday that the tournament will run from June 1-18 with Edgbaston, Cardiff and The Oval hosting all 15 matches.

Australia, which won the event in 2006 and 2009, is in Group A with New Zealand, England and Bangladesh, while India, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka are in Group B.

“Having won the event in 2013, we know how intense this event can be and we are under no illusion that it will be any different next year,” India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said in a statement.

The top eight teams in the ICC ODI rankings until Sept. 30, 2015, have qualified for the tournament. World champion Australia is seeded No. 1 and India is No. 2.

Australia ODI captain Steven Smith, who is expected to be making his maiden appearance in the Champions Trophy, said it will give his team some good experience ahead of the World Cup in England in 2019.

“It’s a truly global tournament that is highly regarded amongst all cricketers and one in which Australia has had success in the past,” Smith said.

The top two teams from each group will progress to the semifinals, to be played at Cardiff and Edgbaston on June 14 and 15. The Oval will host the final on June 18.

ICC chief executive David Richardson said the announcement of the schedule 12 months before the start of the event will provide sufficient time to all the teams to plan for the tournament.

“The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 is not just an ODI competition, it carries a great deal of value since it is being played just three months before the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 qualification cut-off date,” Richardson said. “As such, every point earned here could be crucial.” – AP