With the much-anticipated clash between India and Pakistan in the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled to take place in Dubai on October 24, following the announcement of the schedule on Tuesday, Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said his team will utilise the time between now and the mega-event to play home series against New Zealand and England and “fine-tuning our final outlook."
Speaking on the ICC website, Azam said, “The T20 World Cup schedule announcement brings us one step forward in our preparations for this much-awaited global tournament. We will utilise the build-up period by playing in home series against New Zealand and England and will not only aim to fine-tune our final outlook but also win as many matches as possible so that we can carry that winning form and momentum to the UAE."
In a warning that Pakistan will be a force to reckon with, Azam said, “For Pakistan, the T20 World Cup 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 No. 1 in the ICC T20I team rankings. All the players are excited, motivated and enthusiastic, and view this tournament as an opportunity to showcase our prowess and re-establish our superiority in the shortest format of the game in conditions that suit us best.
“I remain focused in inspiring my side with my performances so that we can become the first Pakistani side to win an ICC major event in Asia," said Azam.
England captain Eoin Morgan said that the standard of T20 cricket around the world is improving exponentially and every nation has a chance of becoming world champions. “It should be one of the closest and most competitive world tournaments to date and we can’t wait to get started," said Morgan.
Oman will take on Papua New Guinea in the opening match of the tournament at the Oman Cricket Academy ground on October 17, while the Super 12 stage commences with a fixture between Australia and South Africa in Abu Dhabi.
The complete schedule, announced on Tuesday confirms the highly anticipated match between former champions India and Pakistan will take place on October 24 in Dubai while Ashes rivals England and Australia will play at the same venue six days later.
The West Indies, the only side to win the tournament twice, will also feature on the opening day of the Super 12s as they kick off their defence of the title in Dubai against England, top ranked in the T20I team rankings.
Sri Lanka, champions in 2014, Bangladesh, Ireland, Namibia, Netherlands Oman, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Scotland, feature in Round 1 of the 16-team tournament, being hosted in the UAE and Oman through to November 14. The top two teams from each group of Round 1 will make it to the Super 12s.
West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said his team will play the same brand of cricket that helped them defeat England in a nerve-wracking final at the Eden Gardens in 2016 with Carlos Brathwaite blasting four consecutive sixes in the last over to turn the tables on 2010 champions England.
“We are excited to begin defence of the T20 World Cup title. T20 cricket is dynamic and the international scene is highly competitive, with players constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation and we are expecting a spectacular event in the UAE and Oman," said Pollard.
Group A: Sri Lanka, Ireland, the Netherlands and Namibia
Group B: Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Oman
(Top two teams from each group advance to Super 12s)
Group 1: England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, A1 and B2.
Group 2: India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, A2 and B1.
(Top two teams from each group advance to the semi-finals)
Oct 17: Oman v Papua New Guinea at Muscat; Bangladesh v Scotland at Muscat; Oct 18: Ireland v Netherlands at Abu Dhabi; Sri Lanka v Namibia at Abu Dhabi; Oct 19: Scotland v PNG at Muscat; Oman v Bangladesh at Muscat; Oct 20: Namibia v Netherlands at Abu Dhabi; Sri Lanka v Ireland at Abu Dhabi; Oct 21: Bangladesh v PNG at Muscat; Oman v Scotland at Muscat; Oct 22: Namibia v Ireland at Sharjah; Sri Lanka v Netherlands at Sharjah.
Oct 23: Australia v South Africa at Abu Dhabi; England v West Indies at Dubai; Oct 24: A1 v B2 at Sharjah; India v Pakistan at Dubai; Oct 25: Afghanistan v B1 at Sharjah; Oct 26: South Africa v West Indies at Dubai; Pakistan v New Zealand at Sharjah; Oct 27: England v B2 at Abu Dhabi; B1 v A2 at Abu Dhabi; Oct 28: Australia v A1 at Dubai; Oct 29: West Indies v B2 at Sharjah; Pakistan v Afghanistan at Dubai; Oct 30: South Africa v A1 at Sharjah; Australia v England at Dubai; Oct 31: Afghanistan v A2 at Abu Dhabi; India v New Zealand at Dubai; Nov 1: England v A1 at Sharjah; Nov 2: South Africa v B2 at Abu Dhabi; Pakistan v A2 at Abu Dhabi; Nov 3: New Zealand v B1 at Dubai; India v Afghanistan at Abu Dhabi; Nov 4: Australia v B2 at Dubai; West indies v A1 at Abu Dhabi; Nov 5: New Zealand v A2 at Sharjah; India v B1 at Dubai; Nov 6: Australia v West Indies at Abu Dhabi; England v South Africa at Sharjah; Nov 7: New Zealand v Afghanistan at Abu Dhabi; Pakistan v B1, at Sharjah; Nov 8: India v A2 at Dubai.
Nov 10: Semifinal 1 (A1 v B2), Abu Dhabi; Nov 11: Semifinal 2 (B1 v A2), Dubai.
Nov 14: Final, Dubai.