(Reuters) – Australia will begin their Women’s Twenty20 World Cup title defence against India next year in a tournament the International Cricket Council (ICC) is hoping to conclude with a record attendance for a women’s sporting event.
The tournament will start on Feb. 21 and culminate at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 8, which is also International Women’s Day.
The ICC said the final presents a “groundbreaking opportunity” to surpass the current attendance record for a women’s fixture for any sport of 90,185, set at the 1999 women’s football World Cup final between the United States and China.
The MCG has a capacity in excess of 100,000 people, although the ICC is hoping to attract more than 92,000.
“Whenever we host an event in Australia we know we can guarantee the one billion cricket fans around the world a great show,” ICC chief executive David Richardson said.
“Outstanding venues. Noisy, passionate, knowledgeable fans. Exciting cricket. This is the perfect combination for a T20 World Cup.”
Australia, who won their fourth T20 title last November, will meet India at the Sydney Showgrounds on Feb. 21, followed by games against Sri Lanka, a qualifier and New Zealand in Group A.
Group B features England and West Indies, South Africa, Pakistan and the other yet to be confirmed qualifying team.
For the first time, the women’s and men’s T20 World Cups will be held as standalone events in the same year, with the men’s tournament being staged from Oct. 18 to Nov. 15, with the final also at the MCG.
“To hold two T20 World Cup finals at the world’s largest cricket stadium in front of 92,000 people with hundreds of millions more watching around the world is a particularly exciting prospect,” Richardson added.
The men’s tournament begins with a series of qualifying matches before Australia open the Super 12 section at the Sydney Cricket Ground against Pakistan on Oct. 24, while India meet South Africa at Perth Stadium.
(The story adds dropped 0 to MCG capacity figure in fourth paragraph)
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)