Cricket-Australia to begin T20 World Cup campaign against South Africa

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Australia will begin their campaign for an elusive Twenty20 World Cup on Oct. 23 when they take on South Africa in their opening match in Dubai, the International Cricket Council said on Tuesday.

Australia have won the 50-overs World Cup a record five times but have failed to lift the trophy in the T20 format.

Aaron Finch's men are in Group 1 of the Super 12 stage alongside England, defending champions West Indies, South Africa and two qualifiers from the preliminary round.

In the seventh edition of the tournament, India have been placed in Group 2 with arch-rivals Pakistan, world test champions New Zealand, Afghanistan and two more qualifiers.

India and Pakistan, who only play each other in ICC events, will meet on Oct. 24 in one of the most highly-anticipated clashes in the sport.

West Indies, the only side to win the tournament twice, will also feature on the opening day of the Super 12s, beginning their title defence against England, the world's top-ranked T20 side.

"The standard of T20 cricket around the world is improving exponentially and every nation has a chance of becoming World champions," said England captain Eoin Morgan, who led the side to the 50-overs title at home in 2019.

"It should be one of the closest and most competitive world tournaments to date and we can't wait to get started."

This year's Twenty20 World Cup was shifted to the United Arab Emirates and Oman from India due to the surge in novel coronavirus infections in the South Asian country.

Matches in the UAE will be played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, while the Oman Cricket Academy Ground will be the fourth venue.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are among eight teams divided into two qualifying groups, with the top two from each group progressing to the Super 12 stage.

The final will be held in Dubai on Nov. 14.

Oman will take on Papua New Guinea in the opening qualifier on Oct. 17.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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