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Modi~~s comment is personal opinion, says Pawar

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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New Delhi :BCCI President Sharad Pawar denied reports that India was reluctant to play in the subsequent editions of the Champions Trophy and announced the schedule of the fifth edition of the event slated from October 7-November 5.

After he signed the hosting agreement for the event with ICC President Ehsan Mani, Mr Pawar said reports that BCCI was not keen to field teams in the future editions of the tournaments were not ''authentic''.

When told that Board vice president Lalit Modi has also objected to the event cutting into the ICC calendar, Mr Pawar distanced the BCCI from the remarks and said, ''ICC finalised the event in the full knowledge of BCCI. If Mr Modi has said that, it was his personal opinion and not the Board's view.'' ICC President Ehsan Mani also said the decision to host the tournament was taken ''with full support from the BCCI'' and ruled out the prospect of this year's Champions Trophy being the last edition.

The ICC and BCCI chiefs today announced the schedule of the fifth Champions Trophy, according to which 21 matches will be played over 30 days in four venues -- Mohali, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Mumbai -- featuring 10 best teams and all the matches will be day-night affair.

Top six teams from the LG ICC ODI Championship table -- Australia, South Africa, India, Pakistan, New Zealand and England -- have made it to the second stage and will be joined by top two teams after a preliminary league featuring Sri Lanka, West Indies, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

Mohali (Nov 1) and Jaipur (Nov 2) will host the semifinals while the final is slated on November 5 at the Cricket Club of India, Mumbai.

''This is a great opportunity for India to play host to the best cricketers from around the world after a gap of 10 years since the World Cup. This tournament is second only to the World Cup in terms of prestige and with a new format, I hope it to be the most competitive Champions Trophy to date,'' Mr Mani said.

''We were keen to have it earlier and the then BCCI President AC Muthaiya was also interested to host it here in 2002 but tax complications deferred it and I thank the Government of India for granting tax exemption.'' ''The fund generated from the event is distributed among our 85 Associate and Affiliated member countries for development of the game and after this edition, we are hoping to earn 65 million dollars from the event,'' he added.

''The timing of the event, barely six months before the World Cup, makes it an interesting affair with players eager to cement their place with performance in the tournament which will also help teams study each other and formulate strategy for the World Cup,'' he explained. With five months left for the event, he urged the BCCI to embark on the upgradation of the venues.

''We have a lot to do and there are responsibilities and obligations that both the BCCI and ICC have to fulfill. We have to ensure that the players and the spectators return satisfied,'' he added.

Mr Pawar also felt that this year's Champions Trophy will be an interesting affair with a new format and said all the venues would get a facelift.

''We have to upgrade all the venues to international standard.

You will see Mohali sporting a new look with more facilities for the players and the crowd. We already have floodlights in Mohali and Ahmedabad and we are going to install those in Mumbai and Jaipur in the coming months,'' he announced.

Australia, India, England and a qualifier from the preliminary stages comprise Group A while group B consists of South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand and another qualifier.

In the first semifinal, Group A topper will take on Group B runners up while in the second, Group B topper meets Group A.

Champions Trophy Schedule: Oct 7: Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh at Mohali Oct 8: West Indies vs Zimbabwe at Ahmedabad Oct 10: Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe at Ahmedabad Oct 11: West Indies vs Bangladesh at Jaipur Oct 13: Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe at Jaipur Oct 14: Sri Lanka vs West Indies at Mumbai Oct 15: India vs England at Jaipur Oct 16: New Zealand vs South Africa at Mumbai Oct 17: Pakistan vs Qualifier 1 at Jaipur Oct 18: Australia vs Qualifier 2 at Mumbai Oct 20: New Zealand vs Qualifier 1 at Mumbai Oct 21: Australia vs England at Jaipur Oct 24: South Africa vs Qualifier 1 at Ahmedabad Oct 25: New Zealand vs Pakistan at Mohali Oct 26: India vs Qualifier 2 at Ahmedabad Oct 27: Pakistan vs South Africa at Mohali Oct 28: England vs Qualifier 2 at Ahmedabad Oct 29: India vs Australia at Mohali Nov 1: Semifinal 1 at Mohali Nov 2: Semifinal 2 at Jaipur Nov 5: Final at Mumbai

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