ICC admits fixing draws to put India and Pakistan in same group

By David Leggat

India will face Pakistan yet again at the Champions Trophy tournament next year. Photo / Getty
India will face Pakistan yet again at the Champions Trophy tournament next year. Photo / Getty

At a time when you would have thought cricket's governing body would have wanted to steer well clear of anything involving the word 'fix', they have effectively turned themselves in.

The draw for next year's eight-nation Champions Trophy in England and Wales has India and Pakistan drawn to meet in group B. Luck of the draw? Forget it.

It is an arranged draw, and not the first either. The International Cricket Council chief executive Dave Richardson gave the game away yesterday when he admitted the draws for its major multi-nation events are done ''in consultation" with the broadcasters.

Since the 2011 World Cup, when the two fierce rivals met in a semifinal in Mohali - a match since shrouded in controversy and allegations that all what not above board on the field -- they have been placed in the same group of the last five ICC tournaments.

''The bottom line is that a significant portion of the cricket world want to see that fixture," Richardson said.

"No doubt we want to try to put India versus Pakistan in our event.

''It is hugely important from an ICC point of view. It is massive around the world and fantastic for the tournament because it gives it a massive kick."

The insistence that India and Pakistan be placed together, which helped force the adoption of the heavily-criticised reduction to a 10-team round robin at the 2019 World Cup, effectively dictated the rest of the draw before it had been made.

Seedings were decided on the basis of the 50-over world rankings at September 30 last year. India were seeded second and Pakistan eight. That meant they had to be bracketed with South Africa (No 3) and Sri Lanka (No 5) to balance the groups.

The West Indies, spectacular winners of the world T20 in India in March, are not there, having ranked outside the top eight at the cut off date of September 30 last year. Nor are resident basket case Zimbabwe.

So it's a jackup. And we should not be surprised by that. Money talks, end of story. It won't change, but at least now everyone knows it's a fix.

But if you were Pakistan, a glance at the results of these clashes would make you want to run a mile, at least in playing terms.

In six World Cup clashes dating back to 1992, India have won them all; in six world T20 meetings, India have won five and tied the other. This time they meet at Edgbaston on June 4.

New Zealand will play Australia in the opening group A game of the tournament in Edgbaston on June 2, followed by England in Cardiff on June 6 and Bangladesh, also in Cardiff three days later.

The semifinals are on June 14 and 15 at Cardiff and Edgbaston with the final on June 18 at The Oval.

Champions Trophy 2017: Groups and key dates
Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh
Group B: India, South Africa Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan

June 2 Black Caps v Australia, Edgbaston
June 6 Black Caps v England, Cardiff
June 9 Black Caps v Bangladesh, Cardiff

June 14 - First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff
June 15 Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston
June 18 Final, The Oval

- NZ Herald

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