The International Cricket Council has admitted that the draws for -global tournaments are habitually fixed in order to get India and Pakistan into the same group.
The draw for the 2017 Champions Trophy in England, which was revealed at the Oval yesterday (Wednesday), again throws the two countries together, with the reigning champions India beginning their title defence against their historic rivals at Edgbaston on June 4.
It is the fifth tournament in succession where India and Pakistan are scheduled to meet in the group stage and matches between the two countries regularly attract global television audiences of up to one billion.
"No doubt we want to try to put India versus Pakistan in our event," said ICC chief executive Dave Richardson. "It's hugely important from an ICC point of view. It's massive around the world and the fans have come to expect it as well. It's fantastic for the tournament because it gives it a massive kick."
The decision to put India and -Pakistan together at all costs - a factor that was also behind the adoption of a 10-team round robin format at the forthcoming 2019 World Cup in England - essentially dictated the rest of the draw before it had been made.
Richardson denied that this had a negative impact on the integrity or fairness of the tournament. "What we try and do is make sure that when you add up the rankings of the different groups, they all add up to the same number of points. You can do that in a number of ways. So long as the pools are balanced, it's silly to avoid [the fixture] when you can fairly cater for it."
Hosts England are in the opposite group and will play Bangladesh at the Oval, New Zealand in Cardiff and Australia at Edgbaston. For Eoin Morgan's young side, it will be a golden opportunity to claim this country's first global 50-over trophy.
"I certainly believe there should be an expectation there," said captain Morgan. "The sooner we have -expectation, the better. The experience of playing the World T20 and getting to the final [in India this year] will put us in an early position where we're able to deal with that expectation."
England will build up to the tournament by playing 30 one-day internationals. The first five will take place later this month, against Sri Lanka, and England are likely to field a full-strength side made up largely of the core of their squad from the last year.