After months of anxious waiting, the Cricket World Cup 2023 schedule was finally announced on Tuesday.
The uncertainty over Pakistan's participation in the tournament meant the schedule was released much later than expected. Still, the formalities have been completed and it's now time to begin the countdown for the 50-overs showpiece event in India.
The opening fixture of the tournament will be a repeat of the 2019 final between winners England and New Zealand on October 5 in Ahmedabad.
The 132,000 capacity Narendra Modi Stadium will be the venue for the opening match and also the final on November 19.
In all, 10 teams will face off over 48 matches across 10 cities to decide the 50-over champions.
The 50-over tournament has a straightforward format. Each team plays the other nine in a round robin format. The top four at the end of the nearly month-long opening stage qualify directly to the knockout semi-finals.
Hosts India, defending champions England, New Zealand, Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, Bangladesh and Afghanistan have already made the cut. Two more teams from the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe will join the eight sides in India.
The tournament will be played across 10 cities in India. The venues are being refurbished and modernised for the World Cup, with some of the traditional stadiums falling well short when it comes to fan experience and facilities.
The venues are: Narendra Modi Stadium (Ahmedabad), HPCA Stadium (Dharamsala), Arun Jaitely Stadium (Delhi), MA Chidambaram Stadium (Chennai), MCA Stadium (Pune), Ekana Stadium (Lucknow), M Chinnaswamy Stadium (Bengaluru), Wankhede Stadium (Mumbai), Eden Gardens (Kolkata) and Rajiv Gandhi Stadium (Hyderabad).
As things stand, the winners of the 2023 World Cup stand to take home $4 million as prize money. The runners-up are set to earn $2 million while the losing semi-finalists are expected to receive $800,000 each.
October-November is winter time in India and there are different weather concerns across the country. In the north, fog and dew are a constant concern during the winter months and air quality could be dangerously poor at venues such as Delhi.
Also, Chennai, Hyderabad and even Bengaluru experience rainfall during this period, which could affect some games.
Temperatures should be pleasant at most venues, with Delhi and Lucknow most likely to experience very cold weather.
Dew is likely to have a big say during the tournament as bowling under lights becomes an impossible task with the ball becoming wet and tough to grip.