India will clash with arch-rivals Pakistan in their ICC T20 World Cup opener on October 24 in Dubai, the ICC announced on Tuesday. As per the schedule announced by the ICC, India's next opponent will be New Zealand on October 31 in Dubai, followed by Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi on November 3. India's remaining two Super 12 matches are against the winner of Group B (November 5 in Dubai) and second placed side of Group A (November 8 in Dubai).
The tournament's first round kicks off on October 17 in Oman, with the hosts taking on Papua New Guinea, and Bangladesh playing Scotland. Group A consists of 2014 champions Sri Lanka, Ireland, the Netherlands and Namibia, while Group B has Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Oman.
The top two teams from each group will qualify for the Super 12 stage. The Super 12s -- round two of the tournament, with two groups -- will begin on October 23, with Australia facing South Africa in Abu Dhabi and England up against title holders and two-time champions West Indies in Dubai. The first semifinal will be held in Abu Dhabi on November 10, while the second will be played in Dubai on November 11.
The final will be held in Dubai on November 14 with November 15 marked as reserve day. The tournament is being hosted by India in the UAE and Oman since a third wave of the Covid-19 is being anticipated at that time of the tournament.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam is looking forward to opening their campaign and said his side will feel at home in UAE conditions having played there on consistent basis. “For Pakistan, the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 is like a home event as the UAE has been our venue for more than a decade. We have not only nurtured our talent and developed our side in the UAE but have also beaten the top sides in these conditions to peak to number-one in the ICC T20I Team Rankings,” he said.
On the high-octane India-Pakistan clash, former India opener Gautam Gambhir told Star Sports: “In 2007 as well, when we went out to win the World Cup, our first game was against Scotland, which was washed out, but then practically, our first game was against Pakistan. And that is exactly what I mentioned it is important to play Pakistan in the early stages of the tournament, because what happens is, you don't want to keep thinking about Pakistan, you can finish it off initially and concentrate on the entire tournament, and it is exactly the same for the fans and the country as well.”
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