India, Bangladesh face off in 2011 World Cup opener

India and Bangladesh, two of the co-hosts, will contest the opening game of the 2011 World Cup in Mirpur on February 19. The fixtures were announced at an ICC event in Mumbai on Monday.

The first game in Sri Lanka will feature the hosts taking on Canada in Hambantota, a new venue, on February 20. Pakistan, who lost their share of World Cup matches due to the security situation in the country, are playing all six of their group matches in Sri Lanka, which is hosting a total of 12 games.

The tournament in India, which is hosting 29 matches in all, will kick off with New Zealand playing Kenya in Chennai on February 20. India’s first home game is against England in Kolkata on February 27 and they will also play their four remaining group games at home. Defending champions Australia begin their campaign against Zimbabwe in Ahmedabad on February 21.

The quarter-finals will be played in Dhaka on March 23 and 25, in Colombo on March 24 and in Ahmedabad on March 26 while the two semi-finals will be played in Colombo and Mohali on March 29 and 30. The renovated Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai will host the final on April 2.

“This announcement is an important indicator of the excellent progress we are making towards our flagship event which brings together teams from all our Members in nation-versus-nation action,” ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said in Mumbai. “Preparation of venues and safety and security planning continues and I am confident that the host countries will showcase our great sport with its great spirit in the best possible light.”

A total of 13 venues will be used over the 43-day tournament, which is a week shorter than the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies. The ten Full Member countries and four Associates have been divided into two groups of seven each, with the top four from each group qualifying for the quarter-finals. Group A includes Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya. Group B comprises India, South Africa, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and the Netherlands.

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