LONDON: Defending champions India have been seeded second and will take on arch-rivals Pakistan in their opening cricket match of next year’s ICC Champions Trophy after the two countries were today placed in the same group for the event to be held in England.
The Asian powerhouses will go head to head at Edgbaston, Birmingham, on June 4. The 18-day tournament will run from June 1 to 18 and will also see matches played at the Cardiff Wales Stadium in Cardiff and The Oval in London.
A couple of days before the all-Asian clash, Australia and New Zealand will lock horns in a repeat of the World Cup 2015 final at Edgbaston.
Event host and 2004 and 2013 finalists England will take on Bangladesh in the tournament-opener at The Oval, which will also be the venue for a battle between former champions Sri Lanka and South Africa on June 3.
The tournament schedule was announced at The Oval exactly a year before the first ball is to be bowled in the tournament, in which a total of 15 matches — including three knock-out games — will be played over two and a half weeks.
The top eight sides as on September 30, 2015 have qualified for this tournament, with world champions Australia seeded number-one. They head Group A, which also includes fourth seeds New Zealand, sixth seeds England and seventh seeds Bangladesh, who will be returning to this competition for the first time since 2006.
India lead Group B, which also comprises third seeds South Africa, fifth seeds Sri Lanka and eighth seeds Pakistan.
The top two sides from each group will progress to the semi-finals, which will be played at Cardiff and Edgbaston on June 14 and 15 respectively, with The Oval hosting the final.
There will be a reserve day for the final.
Announcing the schedule, ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: “The ICC Champions Trophy is a short and sharp event, which is followed and enjoyed by the spectators and players alike.
“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. As such, every point earned here could be crucial.”
In the 2013 event, India defeated Pakistan by eight wickets in a rain-reduced match at Edgbaston and then went on to beat England by five runs at the same venue to win their second ICC Champions Trophy title.
However, in the 2009 event in South Africa, Pakistan beat India by 54 runs at Centurion, which interestingly is their only victory over old foes in a major ICC event.
Australia have won back to back Champions Trophy titles in India and South Africa in 2006 and 2009 respectively, while New Zealand won the competition in Nairobi in 2000 when it was called the ICC Knock-Out.
England are hosting the event for the third time. They had made the final of both tournaments that were held on home soil previously. In 2004, they narrowly lost the final to the West Indies at The Oval by two wickets, while in 2013 they suffered a five-run defeat at Edgbaston.
South Africa won the inaugural event in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1998 while India and Sri Lanka shared the trophy in 2002.
June 1 England v Bangladesh, The Oval (d)
June 2 Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston (d)
June 3 Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (d)
June 4 India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (d)
June 5 Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (d/n)
June 6 England v New Zealand, Cardiff (d)
June 7 Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (d/n)
June 8 India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (d)
June 9 New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (d)
June 10 England v Australia, Edgbaston (d)
June 11 India v South Africa, The Oval (d)
June 12 Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (d)
June 14 First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (d)
June 15 Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (d)
June 18 Final, The Oval (d)
June 19 Reserve day (d).–PTI