The full schedule of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 was announced on Thursday 26 April. The tournament will begin on 30 May with England, the hosts, taking on South Africa at The Oval.
With just a little over a year to go until cricket's showcase event, you can now begin to mark your calendars with the matches you simply cannot afford to miss. Here are five much-anticipated encounters.
Australia v India, 9 June, The Oval
Since the turn of the millennium, the two teams have developed a fierce rivalry across formats and given the world some truly scintillating contests. The next one in that story will play out early on in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 at The Oval.
Australia have an 8-3 advantage over India in World Cups, with two of the defeats coming in 1987 and 2011, when they faced India. They also hold a 2-1 edge in World Cup matches played in England, but all that might have no bearing when they face off again, with Virat Kohli’s India intent on proving their supremacy against a side that know more about winning World Cups than any other team.
India v Pakistan, 16 June, Manchester
Save the date. This age-old rivalry will have its next chapter at Old Trafford, and history suggests it is India’s game to lose. The two sides have met six times at ICC Cricket World Cups so far, going back to the 1992 edition, and India have been victorious every time. India secured a 76-run victory in Adelaide in the 2015 edition, with Virat Kohli scoring a century.
However, Pakistan have plenty of cause for optimism. In the most recent meeting between the two sides, at the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Pakistan got the better of their neighbours ... putting it kindly. Pakistan won by a mammoth 180 runs, posting 338/4 before bundling India out for 158 to win the tournament. That it took place in England will only bolster their confidence heading into the 2019 World Cup.
England v Australia, 25 June, Lord’s
The home side have come on leaps and bounds in limited-overs cricket since the last ICC Cricket World Cup. They had a poor tournament and lost by 111 runs in their Pool A clash against Australia, with Aaron Finch scoring 135. England failed to make it to the quarter-finals, while Australia went on to win it for the fifth time – the first title having come in 1987 when they beat the same opponents in the final in Kolkata's Eden Gardens.
However, the 2015 tournament was the catalyst for England to mend their limited-overs ways. They have since been a force to reckon with, winning the clash at the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 by 40 runs and, more recently, winning a five-match ODI series in Australia 4-1 in January. England will hope to display this new-found dominance at the biggest stage in front of their biggest rivals.
Australia v New Zealand, 29 June, Lord’s
Australia are five-time world champions, while New Zealand have never won the tournament even though they have come within striking distance more than once. But New Zealand have been one of the teams on the rise and are ranked No.4 on the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings against Australia’s No.5, suggesting there isn’t much to choose between them, especially on neutral territory.
In the last World Cup, the two teams played out a low-scoring thriller in Auckland, Kane Williamson winning it for New Zealand with a six off Pat Cummins. Australia, of course, won the big one, the final, when the two teams met again, setting the stage for what should be a mouth-watering contest between two neighbouring nations.
Afghanistan v Windies, 4 July, Headingley
Afghanistan’s rise has been one of the stories of world cricket, and when they take on the Windies – the 1975 and 1979 world champions – at Headingley, it will be on an even footing. If anything, the Asian side might fancy their chances, having beaten the same opponents two times out of two at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 on their way to the title.
If that suggests Afghanistan have the edge, what could work against them is their reliance on spin, which might not have as big a role to play in Leeds as it has in many other parts of the world. One way or the other, though, this has the potential to be a cracker.