Melbourne: Defending champions India will take on arch-foes Pakistan in their opening match of the 2015 ICC cricket World Cup to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand from February 14 to March 29.
      
Placed in the relatively easy Group B, India, who won the 2011 event after defeating Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai, will start their title defence on February 15.
     
Incidentally, India have never lost to Pakistan in any of their five World Cup clashes so far.
     
The Indians will complete their group fixtures against Zimbabwe at Eden Park, Auckland (on March 14). India will also play South Africa (in Melbourne on February 22), Qualifier 4 (in Perth on February 28), West Indies (in Perth on March 6) and Ireland (in Hamilton on March 10).
     
The tournament will open on February 14 with co-hosts Australia and New Zealand playing their first matches in front of their home crowds. The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) will host the final on March 29.
     
New Zealand will square off against 1996 champions Sri Lanka in the tournament opener in Christchurch and later on the same day, under the MCG floodlights, four-time former champions Australia will go head-to-head with arch-rivals England.
     
New Zealand will also host Australia when the two neighbouring countries lock horns in Auckland on March 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, whilst the 23 matches in New Zealand will be held in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Napier, Nelson and Wellington, the ICC said in a statement.
     
The 14 sides (10 Full Members and four qualifiers), as per their rankings on the ICC ODI Rankings table on December 31, 2012, have been divided into two pools.
     
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.

(Agencies)

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