NEW DELHI:Pakistan will begin their ICC Champions Trophy campaign against old rivals India at Edgbaston on June 4, 2017, says ICC.An 18-day tournament will from June 1 and will conclude on June 18, 2017 during which 15 matches will be played in Birmingham, Cardiff and London (The Oval).
The eight captains minced no words in admitting that the ICC Champions Trophy format will stretch the participating sides to their limits, which, in turn, will help bring the best out of the players. They also said next year’s event will be extremely crucial as the pinnacle 50-over ICC Cricket World Cup will be staged in the same conditions in 2019.
Pakistan captain Azhar Ali was candid in saying that his side will be committed to qualifying directly for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 after putting strong performances in the ICC Champions Trophy.
“The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 is a crucial event for us and as a team our main goal will be to win as many matches as possible so that we can improve our team ranking and qualify automatically for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019,” he said. “A lot of ODI cricket is scheduled in the lead up to the ICC Champions Trophy and it will be our best chance to learn, improve and win as many matches as possible so that we arrive in England and Wales next year fully prepared and ready for the challenge.”
Azhar said he was hoping that his team would work out its weaknesses in time to win the trophy.
“The ICC Champions Trophy is one trophy which is missing from our cabinet. It has earned the status as one of the most demanding, challenging and intense competitions. So, it will be nice if we can get our hands on this piece of silverware next year.
“In the face of competition from some outstanding teams and players, it will not be easy, but success at any global event comes only after persistent preparations and efforts, which have to be backed up by consistent performances. I am hoping that over the next 12 months, we will be able to build on our strengths and achieve our objectives.”
Indian captain Dhoni, who inspired India to the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 a couple of years after guiding his side to World Cup victory, said he was aware of the challenges the event poses.
India has been grouped with Asian rivals Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as 1998 winner South Africa. India will open its campaign against Pakistan at Edgbaston, Birmingham, on 4 June.World Cup 2015 finalists New Zealand will meet their Trans-Tasman rivals Australia in group A two days before the India-Pakistan contest. The top two sides from each group will progress to the semi-finals, which will be played at Cardiff and Edgbaston on 14 and 15 June respectively.
The 15-match tournament will culminate at the Oval on June 18.
Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh
Group B: India, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka