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Champions Trophy schedule announced
March 22, 2008 19:35 IST
India will open its campaign against defending champion and top seed Australia in the 2008 ICC [Images] Champions Trophy to be played in Pakistan in September.
The International Cricket Council on Saturday announced the schedule and venues for the tournament to be played from September 11 to 28 in three venues -- Karachi, Lahore [Images] and Rawalpindi.
Host Pakistan will face 2004 winner and 2006 runner-up West Indies [Images] in the opening match on September 11 in a Group A game at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore with Group B's New Zealand taking on Sri Lanka [Images] the next day in Karachi.
India's opening Group A game against Australia will be played in Lahore on September 13.
Karachi and Rawalpindi are the other venues to be used in this year's event, which is very much an elite tournament with only the top eight sides in the world competing.
As discussed at the ICC Board meeting earlier this week in Dubai, a full independent security assessment of the situation in Pakistan will be conducted in June.
As compared to the 2006 tournament when 21 matches were played over 29 days, 15 matches will be played in 17 days this year in what is a much shorter, sharper format. The first semi-final will be played at the National Stadium in Karachi on 24 September while Rawalpindi will host the second semi-final on 25 September.
Gaddafi Stadium, which hosted the final of the 1996 ICC Cricket World Cup, has been selected to stage the final of the tournament.
In India two years ago, sides ranked seven to 10th in the LG ICC ODI Championship table as on 1 April 2006, started the tournament by contesting a preliminary round with a round-robin format. The top two sides from that preliminary round went forward to the second stage which saw the top six sides from the LG ICC ODI Championship table divided into two groups, joined by the two qualifiers from the preliminary round.
This year, the groupings were finalised on March 12 on the basis of teams' rankings in the LG ICC ODI Championship table as on 12 March which was the cut-off date for the determination of the seedings for the ICC Champions Trophy 2008. The eight teams were then split into two groups of four with a round-robin format in operation. The top two sides from each group will progress to the knock-out stage.
The following are the two groups (with seedings in brackets):
Group A: Australia (1), India (4), Pakistan (5), West Indies (8)
11 September � Pakistan v West Indies, Lahore.