MANCHESTER: In this file photo taken on June 28, 2019 Pakistan (left) and Indian super fans cheer during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between West Indies and India at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England. – AFP

NEW DELHI: Fierce rivals India and Pakistan will clash on October 24 at this year’s Twenty20 World Cup, the International Cricket Council said Tuesday as the delayed tournament’s fixtures were announced. The 16-nation tournament — to be held in the United Arab Emirates and Oman — will begin on October 17 with Oman taking on Papua New Guinea in the opener followed by an evening match between Scotland and Bangladesh in round one of the competition.

The top two teams from both group A and group B in the first round will advance to the so-called Super 12 stage, where the game’s heavyweight nations join the tournament. Australia will play South Africa and holders West Indies meet England in Group 1 matches on October 23 at the start of the Super 12, which will eventually decide the four semi-finalists.

But the spotlight will be on the Group 2 India-Pakistan contest in Dubai, with the two rival nations only meeting in multi-nation events due to tensions over Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory. The two Asian giants last met at the 2019 50-over World Cup in England, where India won — maintaining their unbeaten record against Pakistan in World Cups.

England, the 2009 winners, will take on Australia in another key clash on October 30 in Dubai. The tournament, which will be hosted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), was originally meant to take place in Australia at the end of 2020. But it was called off as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe. It was meant to be held in India this year, but was moved to the United Arab Emirates and Oman after the South Asian giant was hit by a massive surge in virus cases in April and May.

The matches will be held across four venues — the Dubai International Stadium, the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the Sharjah Stadium, and the Oman Cricket Academy Ground. The final will be in Dubai on November 14 with a reserve day kept aside on November 15. – AFP