Deja vu as Champions Trophy pits England against Australia for seventh tournament in a row

Deja vu as Champions Trophy pits England against Australia for seventh tournament in a row

Deja vu as Champions Trophy pits England against Australia for seventh tournament in a row
Australia and England met recently at the T20 World Cup – AFP/RANDY BROOKS

England will begin their 2025 Champions Trophy campaign with a clash against Australia in Lahore, which will be the seventh consecutive occasion that the Ashes rivals have been drawn against each other in global men’s events.

Next year’s Champions Trophy will run from February 19 to March 9, with the whole tournament completed in 19 days. The Champions Trophy was last played in 2017, when Pakistan beat India in the final at The Oval, and was scrapped only to be resurrected.

The tournament has acquired extra significance as it will be the first world event that Pakistan have hosted since 1996, when they co-hosted the one-day international World Cup. The competition comprises the top eight sides in last year’s ODI World Cup, split into two groups of four, with the top two sides qualifying for the semi-finals.

England have been placed in group B, alongside Afghanistan, Australia and South Africa. All three opponents beat England during their torrid ODI World Cup campaign in India last year, when England won just three out of nine games. England were in danger of missing out on the Champions Trophy until winning their last two matches.

After playing Australia in Lahore on February 22, England will stay in the city to meet Afghanistan on February 25. They are then due to complete their group campaign by meeting South Africa in Rawalpindi on March 2. The semi-finals will be split between Rawalpindi and Karachi, with the final set for Lahore on March 9.

Under the draft fixture list for the Champions Trophy, the hosts will meet New Zealand in the opening game in Karachi on February 19. The most high-profile game of the tournament will be Pakistan vs India in Lahore on March 1.

The fixture will mark the first time that India have played in Pakistan since 2008. But there is still uncertainty over whether India will agree to travel to Pakistan. The Board of Control for Cricket in India have said that, on matters of touring Pakistan, they are led by the Indian government. For last year’s Asia Cup, held in Pakistan, all of India’s matches were played in Sri Lanka. In the event that India do not agree to play in Pakistan, tournament organisers might be forced to consider whether India’s games could be staged in an alternative country, such as the United Arab Emirates.

In devising the schedule, Pakistan have sought to minimise logistical challenges for India. India’s three group matches, against Bangladesh, New Zealand and then Pakistan, will be in Lahore, which is only a couple of hours from the border with India and easily accessible by road. India are the sole nation on the draft schedule who do not have to move venues between their group fixtures. The Pakistan Cricket Board hope that the schedule will encourage some Indian supporters to make their trip in support of their team.

While India have not played Pakistan in a bilateral series since 2012-13, next year’s Champions Trophy will be the 11th consecutive occasion that the two countries have met each other in the group stage of an ICC global event. The ICC does not stage draws live, unlike many other sports, and events are designed to ensure that India and Pakistan clash – satisfying broadcasters, but raising concerns about sporting integrity.

Besides India, all other competing nations have played in Pakistan since 2021. England undertook a seven-match T20 series and then a three-match Test series in 2022, and will return to Pakistan for another three-match Test series this October.

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