Melbourne, July 30 (IANS) India will start their title defence against traditional rivals Pakistan in Adelaide February 15 in the 2015 World Cup that will be hosted jointly by Australia and New Zealand from Feb 14 to March 29, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced here Tuesday.
The draw that was held here Tuesday, clubbed India and Pakistan with South Africa, the West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland and Qualifier 4 in Group B. England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Qualifier 2 and Qualifier 3 are in Group A.
New Zealand will square off against 1996 champions Sri Lanka in the tournament opener in Christchurch, while later on the same day, under the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) floodlights, four-time former champions Australia will go head-to-head with arch rivals England.
India, who won the 2011 event when they defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in the final in Mumbai, will complete their group fixtures against Zimbabwe at Eden Park, Auckland, March 14.
In the group, India will also play South Africa (in Melbourne, Feb 22), Qualifier 4 (in Perth, Feb 28), the West Indies (in Perth, March 6), and Ireland (in Hamilton, March 10).
Looking ahead to the tournament, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said: "It only seems like yesterday that we won the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in front of a passionate and supportive home crowd."
"World Cup is a very special event for every cricketer because it only takes place every four years. Having tasted success in Mumbai in 2011, we'll be working very hard to retain it."
"I'm keenly looking forward to the tournament and confident that we'll do well. Our recent victory in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 has provided the team with a lot of confidence, and I am sure this experience will help us in our preparations for the World Cup in 2015," Dhoni said.
The trans-Tasmania clash between New Zealand and Australia will take place in Auckland, Match 28.
A total of 49 matches will be played in the 44-day tournament across 14 venues in the two countries.
Australia will stage 26 matches in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, while the 23 matches in New Zealand will be held in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Napier, Nelson and Wellington.
The top four sides from each pool will progress to the quarter-finals, followed by the two semi-finals and the final. All the knock-out matches will have reserve days.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson, who attended the event launch in Melbourne, said: "The ICC Cricket World Cup is the flagship tournament of the 50-over game. The 2015 tournament will mark 40 years since the first World Cup in 1975 and that history of great contests and heroes helps make the tournament what it is - the most sought after prize in our increasingly global game."
"The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will be returning to Australia and New Zealand after 23 years and will be staged at the back of two outstanding 50-over ICC events - the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and ICC Champions Trophy 2013," he noted.
"I'm absolutely confident that the success of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will further strengthen the status of 50-over cricket as a successful and viable format alongside Tests and Twenty20 Internationals."