India kick off World T20 proper against NZ on March 15

MUMBAI, (Reuters) – Hosts and inaugural champions India will kick off the Super 10 stage of the World Twenty20 with a March 15 match in Nagpur against New Zealand in the sixth edition of the tournament offering a record $5.6 million in prize money.

Mumbai and New Delhi will host the two semi-finals while Kolkata’s Eden Gardens will stage the final of the March 8-April 3 tournament, to be played across eight venues in India, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Friday.

Defending men’s champions Sri Lanka have been placed in Group One of the Super 10 stage along with South Africa, 2010 winners England, 2012 champions West Indies and a qualifier.

Group Two will include India, 2009 champions Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and a second qualifier.

“We, as hosts, are fully prepared to organise one of the most entertaining spectacles in world cricket,” Indian board (BCCI) secretary Anurag Thakur said at the launch ceremony.

“India has hosted World Cups in 1987, 1996 and 2011. We can assure you this time it will be bigger, better and most entertaining.”

Eight teams have been split into two groups for the qualifying stage from March 8-13.

Two of them will progress to the Super 10 stage of the event, which will see a 86 percent jump in total prize money for the men’s competition from the last edition in Bangladesh in 2014.

The total prize money for the women’s event, to be played simultaneously with the men’s, is $400,000, a 122 percent increase from the previous tournament.

Bitter neighbours India and Pakistan, who have been wrangling over a bilateral series this month, will clash in a March 19 contest in picturesque Dharamsala, against the backdrop of Northern Indian mountains.

“We need a cooler climate for such a high-voltage contest,” Thakur quipped.

ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar promised a successful tournament in the game’s financial powerhouse.

“India is a country where cricket is a religion and not many places can match the passion for the game like (in) India,” said Manohar, who is also the BCCI president.

“I am fully confident that the BCCI will deliver an outstanding world cricket event.”

 

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