CHENNAI: MAINTAINING the recent trend, India have been clubbed together with Pakistan in the Super 12's stage of the T20 World Cup which will be hosted by the BCCI in the UAE and Oman from October 17 to November 14.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the groupings for the event — which will be the first global cricket after the pandemic postponed the 2020 edition — in Muscat on Friday.
And as expected, thanks to the rankings as of March 20, 2021, India and Pakistan have found themselves in the same group. The two were kept in different groups for the 2020 edition, which was originally scheduled to be held in Australia, but was postponed to 2022 because of the pandemic.
While the groupings for both Round 1 and Super 12's stage have been announced, the schedule is likely to be finalised once the IPL dates are out.
With the IPL preceding the T20 World Cup in the UAE, the BCCI and the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) are making efforts to ensure the pitches are not tired by the time the ICC event begins.
The BCCI decided to include Oman as a co-host for the event specifically for this reason as it would provide Dubai and Abu Dhabi grounds adequate rest before the Super 12's stage.
In Round 1 matches which will be held in Muscat and Sharjah, the eight teams have been divided into two groups.
Group A comprises Sri Lanka, Ireland, The Netherlands and Namibia. Bangladesh, Oman, Scotland and Papa New Guinea make Group B. The top two from each group will make it to the Super 12.
And in the Super 12 stage, the teams have been divided into two groups again with defending champions West Indies, England, Australia, and South Africa joined by Group A winners and Group B runners-up in Group 1. Group 2 will include India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Group B winners, and Group A runners-up.
“Given the disruption caused by Covid-19, we selected the cutoff date as close as possible to the event to ensure we were able to include the maximum amount of cricket in the rankings which determine the groups. There is no doubt we will witness some highly competitive cricket when the event gets underway in just three months. There are some great matchups offered by the groups and it starts to bring the event to life for our fans as our first multi-team event since the onset of the global pandemic draws closer,” ICC acting CEO Geoff Allardice said.
As far as India goes, they find themselves in probably the toughest of the two groups. With the pitches in the UAE expected to be on the slower side, their batting unit will be up against teams that have some of the best tweakers in the business. It can even get worse, if Sri Lanka qualify from Round 1 as Group A runners-up, which means all the sub-continent teams will be comprised in the same group, provided Bangladesh makes it to the Super 12's as Group B winners.
Meanwhile, with regards to the schedule, there are indications that the BCCI and the ICC are hopeful of conducting the entire Round 1 (Group A and B) in Oman so that the venues in the UAE stay fresh.
The gulf region has been a busy venue since the pandemic, having hosted the IPL 2020, part of PSL and now will also host the remaining phase of the IPL 2021.
In case, Oman can't host the entire Round 1, the ICC can also make use of the Tolerance Oval, which is situated adjacent to the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Although this is without stands, it has grass banks and is broadcast ready.
Group A: Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands, Namibia.
Group B: Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea, Oman.
Group 1: England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, A1, B2.
Group 2: India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, A2, B1.