The 2003 World Cup runners-up are at present in the seventh spot in the ICC ODI Championship table and would at least have to move one position higher by April 1, 2006 if they want a direct entry in the event, after the board of ICC development (international) Ltd approved a new format for the championship at its meeting at Dublin yesterday.
According to the new format, top six sides of the ICC ODI Championship table as on April 1, 2006 would get a direct entry while the next four Test playing nations would have to play a round robin qualifying for the remaining two spots.
The eight teams would then be split into two groups of four each with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the semifinals, the ICC said in a release in London today.
"The initial qualifying round will take place in India immediately preceeding the group stage," the release added.
ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said the new format would be highly competitive for all the participating teams.
"The IDI Board is of the view that the new format has addressed the main flaws of the previous 12-team system and we now look forward to an exciting major international evnet in India," Speed was quoted as saying in the release.
The IDI board also reviewed the draft fixtures schedule for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 and the inputs of the board would be incorporated before the final schedule is announced by ICC president Ehsan Mani in Trinidad on July 19.