Dubai: Hosts India will open the ICC Women's World Cup at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai next year against the West Indies on January 31. The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Monday released the schedule and format of the tournament to be held in Mumbai from January 31 to February 17.
Defending champions England will begin their campaign also at the Wankhede against Sri Lanka on February 2. Last edition's runners-up New Zealand play their first match against South Africa, also at the Wankhede, on February 1.
The top eight women's sides in the world will battle it out to be crowned the World Champions. England, New Zealand, Australia and India all qualified for the event by virtue of finishing in the top four in the last World Cup in Australia in 2009.
Joining the top four will be the top four sides from the World Cup Qualifiers held in Bangladesh in November 2011. Winners West Indies, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa make up the remaining places in the tournament. The eight teams have been divided into two groups of four with the top three progressing into the Super Sixes stage.
A total of 25 matches will be played across five venues in Mumbai: Wankhede Stadium, Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), Brabourne Stadium, Middle Income Group Club Ground (MIG) and DY Patil Stadium, with Brabourne Stadium scheduled to host the final on February 17 in a day-night match.
Upon the announcement of the schedule, ICC president Alan Isaac said: "The ICC Women's World Cup is the pinnacle of women's cricket and to have India hosting the top eight women's sides in the one-day format is a real boost to women's cricket in this part of the world. This will be the third time that India has staged the Women's World Cup but this could be by far the most significant," he said.