Opening ceremony to usher in World Cup

Dhaka, Feb 16 (PTI) Cricket World Cup is set to beushered in with a grand opening ceremony here tomorrow as thegame''s showpiece event returns to the sub-continent after 15years, shrugging off the controversy of Eden Gardens beingstripped off a marquee match, involving co-hosts India.

The Bangladeshi capital, which has spruced up itself forthe biggest event in their cricketing history, will takecentrestage of the cricketing world with a two-hour spectacleof song, dance and laser shows at the Bangabandhu NationalStadium.

Internationally-acclaimed rock star Bryan Adams andIndian singing trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy will be among theperformers to set the stage for the tournament, reflecting theincreasing role the entertainment aspect has started to beassociated with the game.

Two days later, Bangladesh and co-hosts India clash inthe inaugural game at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium atMirpur, on Dhaka''s outskirts to herald the beginning of 43days of action spread across 13 venues in three countries.

The other host country Sri Lanka start off their campaignagainst lowly Canada in a Group A encounter in Colombo onSunday.

The sub-continent had its first date with the World Cupwhen India and Pakistan hosted it in 1987 before Sri Lankajoined them in 1996.

It is befitting that the World Cup will be held in thesub-continent this time when the region establishes itself asthe nerve centre of the game, though 1992 champions Pakistanwill not be one of the co-hosts and Bangladesh will be in theparty in their silver jubilee year of initiation into one-daycricket.

The tenth edition of cricket''s quadrennial showpiece,featuring 14 teams and 49 matches -- 29 in India, a dozen inSri Lanka and eight in Bangladesh -- was not devoid ofcontroversies.

It had a nightmare of an initial road as Pakistan wasstripped of its rights to host 14 matches due to the volatilecondition in the country, mainly after attack on the SriLankan players in Lahore in early 2009 though it will get itsshare of revenue even without holding matches.

The reasons for stripping Pakistan of the World Cupmatches by the ICC had nothing much to do with the country''scricket board but it could not be said in the case of Indianauthorities who failed to prepare the iconic Eden Gardensready for the February 27 match between India and England.


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