India to open title defence against Pak at Edgbaston
June 01 2016 10:01 PM
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Indian cricketers celebrate their 2013 Champions Trophy triumph at Edgbaston.

AFP/London

India will open the defence of their Champions Trophy title against arch-rivals Pakistan at next year’s tournament in England and Wales, the International Cricket Council announced yesterday.
The June 4, 2017 clash between the sub-continental giants will take place at the Edgbaston ground in Birmingham—a city with one of the largest Asian population in England. India vs Pakistan is arguably the biggest fixture in international cricket, drawing huge worldwide television audiences, which in turn help attract major sponsors.
ICC chief executive David Richardson, speaking at the tournament launch at The Oval yesterday—a year before the start of the 2017 Champions Trophy—was asked if the draw was a matter of pure coincidence.
“What we try and do is make sure that when you add up rankings of the different groups, that they all add up to the same number of points,” he replied. “You can do that in a number of ways. You can go ‘Zig, zag’, you can go like a snake.”
Former South Africa wicket-keeper Richardson added: “No doubt we want to try and pit India versus Pakistan in our event. It’s massive around the world, and it’s probably no coincidence the two keep ending up in the same group.”
India beat England by five runs at Edgbaston in a rain-reduced final to win the Champions Trophy, a tournament for the world’s top eight 50-over one-day international (ODI) nations, at the last edition in 2013.
Second in importance only to the World Cup, the 2013 edition was supposed to be the last but the ICC decided it should continue.
The eighth tournament will feature 15 matches across three venues in England and Wales with The Oval hosting the June 18 final. Hosts England will take on fast-improving Bangladesh in the June 1 opener, also at The Oval, according to the fixture schedule.
Group A also contains twice winners Australia, who begin their campaign against trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand in a repeat of last year’s World Cup final in Melbourne in which the hosts prevailed.
Apart from India and Pakistan, Group B also includes former champions Sri Lanka and South Africa.
The top two from each group progress to the semi-finals at Cardiff and Edgbaston on June 14 and June 15 respectively.
“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 an ICC statement.
“In the ICC Champions Trophy, it doesn’t matter which other sides are in your group or who your semi-final or final opponent is.
“You have limited time and the key to success is consistency, and being on top of your game each time you step out on to the field. There is very little room for error,” Dhoni added.
England are hosting the tournament for the third time, having reached the finals in 2004 and 2013.
“The ICC Champions Trophy is an elite ODI competition, contested by the sport’s top eight ranked sides featuring the finest 50-over cricketers,” England captain Eoin Morgan said. “As professionals, we want to be involved in such intense competitions where our individual and team skills are tested almost each day.
England will be especially keen to beat Bangladesh, the team that knocked them out of last year’s World Cup, when they open their Champions Trophy campaign against the Tigers at The Oval, Surrey’s headquarters in south London, on June 1.
Meanwhile, world champions Australia will start their bid to win a third Champions Trophy against New Zealand at Edgbaston on June 2, in a repeat of their 2015 World Cup final clash.
England’s 15-run loss to Bangladesh at the World Cup in Adelaide prompted a radical re-think of their approach to white-ball cricket. They went all the way to this year’s World Twenty20 final, only for Eoin Morgan’s men to suffer an agonising last-over loss to the West Indies in Kolkata in April.
“At the last two 50-over tournaments we’ve played (Bangladesh) and they’ve been very tricky opposition,” said England one-day captain Morgan, who was also present at the launch function alongside Richardson at The Oval.
“In the last two years they’ve come on leaps and bounds,” added Morgan, skipper of the England side which was tamed by the Tigers at the World Cup. “The evolution of the 50-over game has been unbelievable since the most recent World Cup. We’ve been doing our best to play catch up, and the rate we’re growing as a side at the moment is really good for English cricket.”
The 2017 Champions Trophy will run from June 1-18, with the three venues—The Oval, Edgbaston and Cardiff—being the same grounds that were used for the 2013 edition. The top eight sides in the 50-over world rankings as at September 30, 2015 have qualified for the tournament and that means there was no place for World Twenty20 champions the West Indies, beaten to eighth spot by Pakistan.
The top two teams in each group will go forward to the semi-finals at Cardiff, the capital of Wales, and Edgbaston on June 14 and 15 respectively, with The Oval staging the final. Unlike 2013, there will be a reserve day in place for next year’s final.

Groups and Fixtures
Group A: Australia, New Zealand,
England, Bangladesh
Group B: India, South Africa,
Sri Lanka, Pakistan
Venues: The Oval, Edgbaston, Cardiff

Fixtures
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: 1st semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (d); June 15: 2nd semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (d); June 18: Final, The Oval (d); June 19: Reserve day (d)
(Note: d=day matches (0930 GMT start); d/n=day/night matches (1230 GMT start)



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