Dhaka: No more
England's preserve, the biggest event in the game of cricket - the
World Cup - returns to its new power centre, the Indian
sub-continent, for the third time Thursday with a gala opening
Amid a tight security blanket, the Bangladesh capital is all set
to usher in 43 days of riveting action spread across 13 venues in
three countries with a mesmerising 135-minute routine of song,
dance and laser shows at the age-old Bangabandhu National Stadium.
Two days later, Bangladesh and co-hosts India clash in the
inaugural game at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, on
The other host country Sri Lanka start off their campaign against
lowly Canada in a group A encounter in Colombo Sunday.
Of the three South Asian neighbours, India has organised the event
with Pakistan in 1987, while Sri Lanka joined the duo as the 1996
hosts. For first time co-organisers Bangladesh, the honour has
coincided with a historic occasion, as 2011 marks the silver
jubilee of its first ever One-day International game against
Pakistan in 1986.
The tenth edition of cricket's quadrennial showpiece, featuring 14
teams and 49 matches -- 29 in India, a dozen in Sri Lanka and
eight in Bangladesh -- has not been without its share of
Terrorism, the tardy pace of preparations and the weather proved
A big jolt came in February 2009, when the International Cricket
Council (ICC) removed all the 14 games that were to be played in
Pakistan following the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in
Lahore. Pakistan, however, remain official co-hosts, though they
would play their home matches in Sri Lanka.
As recent as a month ago, the ICC inspectors found five of the
venues -- three in Sri Lanka and Wankhede and Eden Gardens in
India -- were not ready. While four of the venues got the nod, the
historic Eden -- that staged the World Cup final in 1987 and a
semifinal in 1996 -- was stripped of the India-England Feb 27 tie
on grounds of unpreparedness.
With the match shifted to Bangalore, Eden was left with three
other non-India matches only.
With cricket and commerce now becoming synonymous, particularly in
the sub-continent, the ICC's dictum that players cannot endorse
products which have a conflict of interest with the Cup sponsors
has triggered discontent. Four Indian players, including Sachin
Tendulkar, met Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)
president Shashank Manohar on the issue. And now, Indian captain
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has reportedly been warned by the ICC for
breaching its ambush marketing clause.
The game has a come a long way from the maiden edition of the
World Cup in 1975 and the two subsequent editions in England.
Those were the days when the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC),
headquartered at Lord's in London, ruled cricket.
In 1987, the power centre started shifting with the
sub-continental nations flexing their financial muscles as the
bulk of the investors came from this part of the world. As the
years went by, the ICC headquarters shifted to Dubai and now, the
sub-continent calls the shots.
England's fading clout has found an echo in on-field action. While
India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have all been world champions,
England are still looking for their first World Cup success.
Australia, with four Cup wins, remain the most successful side,
followed by the West Indies with back-to-back wins in 1975 and
While the West Indies are a pale shadow of their past cricketing
might, Australia also are not being regarded as favourites as they
are in the process of finding their feet once again after the
retirement of prized players.
With a formidable batting line up, India are being rated as the
team most likely to win the trophy, followed by Pakistan and Sri
England, with their recent successes, are also being counted among
the strongest Cup challengers, and if they manage to pull it off,
they will be making a telling statement in a region which has
played a big role in taking the World Cup away from their
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