Australia to open 2011 World Cup against Zimbabwe
Four-time champion Australia will begin the defense of its World Cup title against Zimbabwe on Feb. 21, 2011, in Ahmedabad, India. The International Cricket Council announced the schedule for the 14-team tournament co-hosted by Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka on Monday. Australia and Zimbabwe are in Group A with Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Canada and Kenya. India, South Africa, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and the Netherlands are in Group B. The 43-day tournament will open on Feb. 19 in Dhaka - two days after the opening ceremony - with Bangladesh playing India. The final will be played in Mumbai on April 2. "The match schedule announcement allows all our stakeholders to start planning their tours," ICC vice president Sharad Pawar said. Sri Lanka, which lost in the 2007 final, will complete its group schedule at home in Colombo against Pakistan. "We've built two new fantastic and beautiful stadiums (in Hambantota and Pallekele) back home and I can assure you that all of Sri Lanka is focused on the event," Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said. "The 2011 World Cup will also ensure that the enthusiasm and support for the event will only grow. We have won the cup in 1996 and hopefully we will do it once again." The quarterfinals will be played in Dhaka on March 23 and 25, in Colombo on March 24 and in Ahmedabad on March 26. The two semifinals are scheduled for Colombo and Mohali on March 29 and 30. "The World Cup will surely be very competitive," India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said. "It will also be about how well a team plays on that day as pressure will be intense." Of the 49 matches at the 2011 tournament, India will host 29 while Sri Lanka hosts 12 and Bangladesh gets eight. Pakistan had originally been chosen to co-host matches, but the ICC pulled the tournament from the country because of security concerns shortly after the Sri Lankan team was attacked by terrorists in Lahore in March.