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ICC Men’s ODI World Cup kicks off today at Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad: Opening match between ENG and NZ

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The ICC Men’s ODI Cricket World Cup 2023 kicks off in Gujarat from today. The Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad is all set to host the opening match of the tournament between England and New Zealand this afternoon. The match will begin at 2 PM Indian Standard Time. Both the teams are finalists of the previous edition with England being the defending champions.
 
India will begin its campaign on Sunday against Australia at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. Ahmedabad will host five World Cup matches including the India-Pakistan fixture on 14th of this month and the World Cup Final on 19th of next month.
 
Meanwhile, nearly 3,500 police personnel have been deployed at the stadium in Motera area and other parts of Ahmedabad for the opening game today.

Four years on from that infamous match at Lord’s, in a completely different setting at the imposing Narendra Modi Stadium, will we have a match as exciting as that final? In some ways, it’d be a much-needed shot in the arm for a World Cup that has otherwise been in the limelight for varied reasons, including a focus on the format of the game itself. There’s a case to be made that the interest around a World Cup is not necessarily dictated by the general interest in the format, or an overdose of cricket.

Even as there is a clamour for tickets for India matches and other marquee games in the tournament, the acid test for the tournament could be in how the rest of the matches figure in public memory, especially in India. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that no game apart from that final still holds a place dear to the heart for most cricket fans, neutral or otherwise. It is with that lingering memories that this one kickstarts with many a key performer still around, or making a comeback for the tournament.

Trent Boult against England’s marauding top order, the potential return of Ben Stokes, the fire-breathing Mark Wood etc promise to offer plenty for any cricket tragic. As does the prospect of following England’s journey in the tournament and if they can make a case for themselves as all-time greats by winning the World Cup twice in a row. Or could New Zealand break their rut in the white-ball game to become world champions. Momentum is often an operative word used by teams themselves in a tournament like this, giving the tournament-opener an extra edge as it starts a 48-day long journey.

How will England’s ultra-aggressive methods fare on pitches that they’d find in India? Do they have a conservative zone to switch to if the situation demands so? Can New Zealand rise beyond the tag of underdogs? How will they cope up until Kane Williamson and Tim Southee return? Those are some of the questions that could have answers coming early in the tournament, perhaps even in Ahmedabad.

Squads:

England Squad: Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler(w/c), Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood, Harry Brook, Gus Atkinson, Reece Topley, David Willey

New Zealand Squad: Devon Conway, Will Young, Daryl Mitchell, Mark Chapman, Tom Latham(w/c), Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Mitchell Santner, James Neesham

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