India to open ICC Champions Trophy title defence against Pakistan
Dubai, June 1 (IANS) Defending champions India will open their 2017 ICC Champions Trophy campaign by taking on arch-rivals Pakistan at Edgbaston on June 4, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced on Wednesday.
Placed in group B alongside eight seed Pakistan, fifth seed Sri Lanka and third seed South Africa, the men-in-blue, seeded second, will then face the islanders on June 8 before taking on the Proteas in the final league game on June 11 at The Oval in London.
Top seeds Australia head Group A, which also includes fourth seed New Zealand, sixth seed England and seventh seed Bangladesh, who will be returning to this competition for the first time since 2006. Hosts England will take on Bangladesh in the tournament opener on June 1 at The Oval.
The 18-day tournament, running from June 1 to 18, will witness the top eight sides battling it out for the trophy.
The cut-off date for qualifying was September 30, 2015, which means the West Indies are out of the race.
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."
He added: "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.
"The announcement of the ICC Champions Trophy schedule 12 months before the start of the event will provide sufficient time to all eight sides to plan for the tournament and arrive in England and Wales fully prepared and geared up so that they can collect enough points to directly qualify for the 2019 extravaganza."
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) events director, Steve Elworthy, said, "The ICC Champions Trophy was a huge success in 2013, with packed grounds and thrilling cricket, so we look forward to welcoming it back to England and Wales this time next year."
"It will start three years of global events in England and Wales, with the ICC Women's World Cup following shortly after and then the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019. It is without doubt an exciting time for cricket in this country," he added.
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 its second ICC Champions Trophy title.