Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo
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The three teams jointly hosting the 2011 World Cup - Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh - will get to play their knockout matches, should they make it that far, at home venues irrespective of where they finish in their group. However, if two of the host nations draw each other in the knockout stages, the team placed higher in the pre-tournament seeding - frozen about a year ago - will get preference.
If, for example, India make it to the quarters, they will play their match in Ahmedabad (one of the four venues) even if they draw Sri Lanka because India were better placed better when the teams were seeded. With the final scheduled in India, it ensures they will play at home in whatever knockout matches they qualify for.
Sri Lanka will play India away, but Bangladesh and other teams at home. Bangladesh will play away if they are to draw any other host nation in the quarter-finals, but will get a home game if they are playing any other team.
These rules imply that the match schedule for the knockout stages will not be known until the fate of the three host teams becomes clear. An ICC source said that the knockout schedule, as it is planned, has the potential to affect the tournament's logistics and other organisational aspects. "The knockout stages can't be sorted out until the last group game, which is India versus West Indies in Chennai on March 20. Everything will be clear only after that," the source said.
Two of the four quarter-finals are scheduled to be played in Mirpur, and one each in Ahmedabad and Colombo. If all three hosts make it to the quarters, and don't draw each other, the scheduling will be simple: India's match in Ahmedabad, Sri Lanka's in Colombo, Bangladesh's in Mirpur, and the fourth quarter in Mirpur as well.
The league stage will feature two groups of seven each, with the top four from each progressing to the quarters. India and Bangladesh are in the same group, so they will not meet each other in the quarters.
The traditional formula will be followed to determine who plays whom in quarter-finals, wherein the team finishing at the top of Group A meets the team finishing fourth in Group B (by extension A1 v B4, A2 v B3, A3 v B2, A4 v B1).
Mohali and Colombo will host the semi-finals, and there too the host teams will have the preference of playing at home. The match-ups will be decided according to the schedule, and the winner of the first quarter-final will meet the winner of the third quarter-final. The winners of the quarter-finals in Mirpur will face each other in one of the semi-finals, and the other two winners in the other. So, in a hypothetical scenario, if India and Sri Lanka play their quarter-finals in their respective countries and win their matches, they will play each other in Mohali.
The format is similar to the 1992 World Cup where New Zealand would have had to travel to Sydney had they drawn Australia for the semi-final. As it turned out, Australia failed to make it that far, and New Zealand played their semi in Auckland.
However, the 1996 World Cup, played in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, didn't have any such provision in place: the match-ups and venues were pre-decided. India finished third in their group with a lead of two points over fourth-placed West Indies. Had India finished fourth, they would have had to travel to Karachi to play the third quarter-final, against South Africa who finished first in their group. As it turned out, India drew Pakistan in the second quarter-final, scheduled for Bangalore.
In the subsequent World Cups, Super Sixes and Super Eights replaced the quarter-finals concept. In 2007, the ICC made sure the schedule of the Super Eights wouldn't change according to where the teams finished in their group stages, thus making it simpler for the fans to book tickets for their teams' matches well in advance.