India, which won the 2011 event when it defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in the final in Mumbai, will complete its group fixtures against Zimbabwe at Eden Park, Auckland, on 14 March. In the group, India will also play South Africa (in Melbourne on 22 February), Qualifier 4 (in Perth on 28 February), West Indies (in Perth on 6 March) and Ireland* (in Hamilton on 10 March).
Looking ahead to the tournament, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said: “It only seems like yesterday that we won the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in front of a passionate and supportive home crowd.
“World Cup is a very special event for every cricketer because it only takes place every four years. Having tasted success in Mumbai in 2011, we’ll be working very hard to retain it.
“I’m keenly looking forward to the tournament and confident that we’ll do well. Our recent victory in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 has provided the team with a lot of confidence, and I am sure this experience will help us in our preparations for the World Cup in 2015.”
The tournament opens on 14 February with co-hosts Australia and New Zealand playing their first matches on the opening day of the tournament in front of their home crowds, while the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) will host the final on 29 March.
New Zealand will square off against 1996 champion Sri Lanka in the tournament opener in Christchurch, while later on the same day, under the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) floodlights, four-time former champion Australia will go head-to-head with arch rival England.
New Zealand will also host Australia when the two neighbouring countries lock horns in Auckland on 28 March.
A total of 49 matches will be played in the 44-day tournament across 14 venues in the two countries. Australia will stage 26 matches in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, whilst the 23 matches in New Zealand will be held in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Napier, Nelson and Wellington.
The 14 sides (10 Full Members and four qualifiers), as per their rankings on the Reliance ICC ODI Rankings table on 31 December 2012, have been divided into two pools:
Pool A: England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Qualifier 2, Qualifier 3
Pool B: South Africa, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland*, Qualifier 4
ICC President Alan Isaac, who attended the event launch in Wellington, said: “I’m delighted to be part of this historic occasion as today we officially start the countdown to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, an event that, over the past 40 years, has become a truly global event.The top four sides from each pool will progress to the quarter-finals, followed by the two semi-finals and the final. All the knock-out matches will have reserve days.
“ICC events have established a unique place in the cricket calendar, and, as we’ve seen at our most recent events in Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom, players, sponsors, media, fans and supporters from all around the world want to be part of the spectacle.
“Sport is synonymous with life in Australia and New Zealand, and both countries boast some of the best facilities in the world. With the World Cup returning to these shores for the first time since 1992, I am sure it will be an event to remember.”
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson, who attended the event launch in Melbourne, said: “The ICC Cricket World Cup is the flagship tournament of the 50-over game. The 2015 tournament will mark 40 years since the first World Cup in 1975 and that history of great contests and heroes helps make the tournament what it is – the most sought after prize in our increasingly global game.
“The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will be returning to Australia and New Zealand after 23 years and will be staged at the back of two outstanding 50-over ICC events – the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and ICC Champions Trophy 2013.
“I’m absolutely confident that the success of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will further strengthen the status of 50-over cricket as a successful and viable format alongside Tests and Twenty20 Internationals.”
John Harnden, Chief Executive of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Local Organising Committee, said ticket prices would be announced later in the year, and that tickets would be affordable.
“This tournament is about the best teams, the best players and their endurance and skills that will see only the best left standing. We want as many fans as possible to be a part of this rare event,” Mr Harnden said.
“Australia and New Zealand have diverse communities who are passionate about their heritage and very passionate about cricket. We’ll be working hard in local communities to ensure they can follow their teams, attend matches and play a part in the event in 2015.”
“The result is a great one for cricket and fans of both countries. We have every team playing in both countries, equal number of host cities and pool games. This will be a summer that inspires young cricketers and provides lasting memories.”