India and Pakistan will meet in the Super 12s stage of the 2021 men's T20 World Cup, to be co-hosted by the UAE and Oman between October 17 and November 14. This will make it the first face-off between the two teams in more than two years, their last fixture having come in the 2019 50-over World Cup. ICC announced the make-up of the groups - both for the first round and for the Super 12s stage - for the big-ticket tournament, which will be the first multi-team, global event organised by the ICC since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year.
The ICC did not unveil the schedule for the 16-team tournament, which is expected to be finalised shortly. The first-round matches will be split between two groups, with the games to be played in the UAE and Oman. Group A has Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands and Namibia, while Group B has Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Oman. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the Super 12s, which will be played in the three UAE centres - Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
Teams in the Super 12s have been pooled into two groups as well. India and Pakistan are in Group 2 alongside New Zealand, Afghanistan and two qualifiers - B1 and A2. Group 1 comprises defending champions West Indies along with England, Australia and South Africa and the other two qualifers - A1 and B2. The groups, the ICC confirmed, were selected on the basis of the team rankings as of March 20, 2021.
There is no doubt we will witness some highly competitive cricket when the event gets underway in just three months.
The tournament was earlier scheduled to be played in India, but owing to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic in the country, the BCCI decided to move it overseas, even though the Indian board continues to be official hosts for the event.
The ICC had named the UAE as the back-up venue for the tournament in 2020 itself. Recently, it decided to add Oman as a venue keeping in mind the volume of cricket that the UAE - especially Abu Dhabi - has hosted since the pandemic began. The UAE will also host the remainder of the 2021 IPL from September 19 until mid-October.
The ICC felt having Oman as an additional venue would help keep the main grounds in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah fresh for the Super 12s stage.