MUMBAI: Arch-rivals India and Pakistan were today placed in the same group for next year's ICC World Twenty20, setting the stage for a high-voltage clash between the two sides on March 19 in Dharamsala.
The ICC today unveiled the groups and schedule of the event, which will be staged across eight venues in India from March 8 to April 3.
The two countries are currently undecided on whether to engage in a bilateral series later this month owing to political tensions.
India will open their campaign against New Zealand on March 15 in Nagpur before taking on Pakistan. India's other matches will be against the qualifying Group A winners in Bengaluru on March 23 and Australia in Mohali on March 27.
A total of 58 matches, including 35 men's and 23 women's games, will be played in the 27-day tournament in Bengaluru, Chennai, Dharamsala, Kolkata, Mohali, Mumbai, Nagpur and New Delhi.
New Delhi and Mumbai will host the semi-finals on March 30 and 31, respectively, while Eden Gardens in Kolkata will be the venue of the April 3 finals.
ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar, who attended the launch ceremony in Mumbai, said, "India is a country where cricket is a religion and not many places can match the passion for the game like India. I am fully confident that the Board of Control for Cricket in India will deliver an outstanding world cricket event, just like the ICC Cricket World Cups in 1987, 1996 and 2011."
"The ICC and BCCI are fully committed and will work together to make this a memorable event. I invite fans from across the world to witness fast-paced cricketing action on the field and enjoy the hospitality and culture of India, off it."
BCCI Secretary Anurag Thakur promised a well-organised World Cup.
"We, as hosts, are fully prepared to organise one of the most entertaining spectacles in world cricket. We draw experience from hosting three ICC Cricket World Cups and are ready to make the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016 one of the most memorable events.
"Our preparations are in full swing, and BCCI and ICC is working together to make it a lifetime experience for the players and the fans. India is a vibrant country – young, full of colour, energy and exuberance - and is very much like the concept of Twenty20 cricket itself. We would encourage everyone involved with the game to experience the best of India," he said.
The women's semi-finals and final will be followed by the men's knock-out matches. There is a reserve day for the finals.
The men's event will carry a total prize money of USD 5.6 million, which is an 86 per cent increase from the 2014 tournament, while the total prize money for the women's event is USD 400,000, which is a 122 per cent increase from the Bangladesh event.
Following is the complete schedule of the ICC World Twenty20 to be held in India next year.
First round (group winners to progress to second round).
Group A – Bangladesh, Netherlands, Ireland and Oman
Group B – Zimbabwe, Scotland, Hong Kong and Afghanistan
Second round groups:
Super 10 Group 1: Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies, England and winner of Group B (Q1B).
Super 10 Group 2: India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and winner of Group A (Q1A).
Group A – Australia (A1), South Africa (A2), New Zealand (A3), Sri Lanka (A4) and Ireland (A5).
Group B – England (B1), West Indies (B2), India (B3), Pakistan (B4) and Bangladesh (B5).
Tuesday, March 8: Zimbabwe vs Hong Kong (PM), Nagpur; Scotland vs Afghanistan (Eve.), Nagpur.
Wednesday, March 9: Bangladesh vs Netherlands (PM), Dharamsala; Ireland vs Oman (Eve.), Dharamsala.
Thursday, March 10: Scotland vs Zimbabwe (PM), Nagpur; Hong Kong vs Afghanistan (Eve.), Nagpur.
Friday, March 11: Netherlands vs Oman (PM), Dharamsala; Bangladesh vs Ireland (Eve.), Dharamsala.
Saturday, March 12: Zimbabwe vs Afghanistan (PM), Nagpur; Scotland vs Hong Kong (Eve.), Nagpur.
Sunday, March 13: Netherlands vs Ireland (PM), Dharamsala; Bangladesh vs Oman (Eve.), Dharamsala.
Tuesday, March 15: India vs Bangladesh (W) (PM), Bengaluru; New Zealand vs Sri Lanka (W) (Eve.), New Delhi; New Zealand vs India (M) (Eve), Nagpur.
Sunday, March 20: South Africa vs Q1B (M) (PM), Mumbai; West Indies vs Bangladesh (W) (PM), Chennai; Sri Lanka vs Ireland (W) (Eve.), Mohali; Sri Lanka vs West Indies (M) (Eve.), Bengaluru.
Monday, March 21: Australia vs New Zealand (W) (PM), Nagpur; Australia vs Q1A (M) (Eve.), Bengaluru.
Tuesday, March 22: England vs India (W) (PM), Dharamsala; New Zealand vs Pakistan (M) (Eve.), Mohali.
Wednesday, March 23: England vs Q1B (M) (PM), New Delhi; India vs Q1A (M), (Eve.), Bengaluru; South Africa v Ireland (W) (Eve.), Chennai.
Thursday, March 24: England vs West Indies (W) (Eve.), Dharamsala; Australia vs Sri Lanka (W) (PM), New Delhi; Pakistan vs Bangladesh (W) (Eve.), New Delhi.
Friday, March 25: Pakistan vs Australia (M) (PM), Mohali; South Africa vs West Indies (M), (Eve.), Nagpur.
Saturday, March 26: Australia vs Ireland (W) (PM), New Delhi; Q1A vs New Zealand (M) (PM), Kolkata; England vs Sri Lanka (M) (Eve.), New Delhi; South Africa vs New Zealand (W) (Eve.), Bengaluru.
Sunday, March 27: West Indies vs India (W) (PM), Mohali; India vs Australia (M) (Eve.), Mohali; England vs Pakistan (W) (Eve.), Chennai; Q1B vs West Indies (M) (PM), Nagpur.
Monday, March 28: South Africa vs Sri Lanka (W) (PM), Bengaluru; South Africa vs Sri Lanka (M) (Eve.), New Delhi.
Tuesday, March 29: Rest/Travel day.
Wednesday, March 30: Women's semi-final (2nd group A vs 1st group B) (PM), New Delhi; Men's semi-final (Super 10 Group 1 2nd vs Super 10 Group 2 1st) (Eve.), New Delhi.
Thursday, March 31: Women's semi-final (1st group A vs 2nd group B) (PM), Mumbai; Men's semi-final (Super 10 Group 1 2nd v Super 10 Group 2 1st) (Eve.), Mumbai.
Friday, April 1: Rest/Travel day
Saturday, April: Rest/Travel day
Sunday, April: Women's final (PM), Kolkata; Men's final (Eve.), Kolkata.
Note: ('M' denotes men's match; 'W' denotes women's match; PM means afternoon match and Eve. means night match. Match timings to be confirmed in due course).
Wednesday, March 16: West Indies vs England (M) (PM), Mumbai; Pakistan vs Q1A (M) (Eve.), Kolkata; West Indies vs Pakistan (W) (Eve.), Chennai.
Thursday: March 17: England vs Bangladesh (W) (PM), Bengaluru; Sri Lanka vs Q1B (M) (Eve.), Kolkata.
Friday, March 18: New Zealand vs Ireland (W) (PM), Mohali; Australia vs New Zealand (M) (PM), Dharamsala; South Africa vs England (M) (Eve.), Mumbai; Australia vs South Africa (W) (Eve.), Nagpur.
Saturday, March 19: India vs Pakistan (W) (PM), New Delhi; India vs Pakistan (M) (Eve.), Dharamsala.