Windies to begin T-20 title defence against archrivals England

West Indies will open the defence of their Twenty20 World Cup title against archrivals England, in a repeat of the sensational final five years ago in Mumbai.

In fixtures announced by the International Cricket Council on Tuesday, the Caribbean powerhouses will battle Eoin Morgan’s side on October 23 here, one of two matches which will highlight the opening day of the Super 12s, with Australia and South Africa clashing in Abu Dhabi.

The tournament runs from October 23 to November 14, and will be preceded by an eight-team qualifying tournament from October 17-22.

West Indies were last month drawn in a difficult Group One which includes Australia, South Africa and the top placed qualifier from Group A and the second placed finisher in Group B.

Sri Lanka and Ireland are heavy favorites to advance from Group A which also features the Netherlands, and Namibia, while Bangladesh and Scotland have been tipped to progress from Group B that involves Papua New Guinea and and Oman.

“We are excited to begin the defence of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup title later this year,” West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said in an ICC statement.

“T20 cricket is dynamic, and the international scene is highly competitive, with players constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation and we are expecting a spectacular event in the UAE and Oman.

“We have a particularly interesting Super 12 group, which sees us come up against Australia, England and South Africa. We can’t wait to get started!”

He added: “West Indian cricketers have always played an exciting brand of cricket and I am sure our fans in the Caribbean and all over the world are highly anticipating seeing us in action.”

West Indies also faced England in their opening match of the 2016 edition, beating them by six wickets in Mumbai.

Since that tournament, the two teams have faced each other only four times, with England winning three of those outings.

“It should be one of the closest and most competitive world tournaments to date and we can’t wait to get started,” Morgan said.

West Indies take on South Africa on October 26 also in Dubai, coming on the heels of the recent five-match series between the two teams in the Caribbean which the visitors won 3-2.

Temba Bavuma, who presided over that success in Grenada last month, said he was anxiously looking forward to the showpiece.

“We have spent the greater part of the year preparing for this contest and I look forward to leading our country in my first world showpiece as captain,” he noted.

Sharjah will be the venue for West Indies’ clash with the second placed qualifier from Group B on October 29 before the Caribbean side travel to Abu Dhabi to take on the top placed qualifiers from Group A on November 4.

West Indies close out their group stage fixtures against highly-rated Australia in Abu Dhabi two days later.

Group Two comprises India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, and the second placed qualifiers from Group A and the winners of the Group B qualifiers.

The semi-finals are scheduled for November 10 and 11 in Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively, with the final on November 14 in Dubai.

CMC

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