Himalayas to host India-Pakistan World T20 clash

Cricket white ball (File)
Cricket white ball (File)

Mumbai - The sleepy hillstation of Dharamsala will host arch-rivals India and Pakistan at next year's World Twenty20, while the final will be staged at Kolkata's historic Eden Gardens, organisers said on Friday.

The bitter foes will meet in the group stages on March 19 in remote Dharamsala in the Himalayan foothills whose stadium houses just 23 000 fans, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced in India's Mumbai.

World cricket's governing body said eight venues across India would host the showpiece event, which runs from March 8 to April 3, with Mumbai and New Delhi staging the semi-finals and Kolkata the final.

"The ICC and BCCI are fully committed and will work together to make this a memorable event," said ICC chairperson Shashank Manohar, who also heads the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

India versus Pakistan is set to be one of the most anticipated clashes of the tournament but fans could find tickets hard to come by, with organisers overlooking larger stadiums in favour of Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama.

Eden Gardens, in comparison, can accommodate more than 60 000 spectators while Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, which is likely to have been ruled out because of security reasons, has a capacity of around 35 000.

"We, as hosts, are fully prepared to organise one of the most entertaining spectacles in world cricket," said BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, who is also president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association which runs the Dharamsala stadium.

India had suspended bilateral cricket with Pakistan in the aftermath of the deadly 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based across the border.

A recent thaw in relations has raised hopes for a bilateral series, which is currently awaiting the Indian government's approval.

India, Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia are placed in Group 2 of the second round Super 10s stage, the ICC announced.

South Africa, England, West Indies and Sri Lanka are in Group 1. Two qualifying teams will join the Super 10s stage after the first round.

The second round gets under way with hosts India taking on New Zealand on March 15 in Nagpur, in the western state of Maharashtra.

Defending champions Sri Lanka begin the defence of their title against a qualifying team on March 17 in Kolkata.

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