May 29, 2013, 5:55 am -- /EPR NETWORK/ -- Forget this summer's Ashes series between England and Australia for a moment because before that oh-so small rivalry plays out, the world's best One Day cricketers from the eight top One Day International sides gather in England and Wales this June for the seventh and final ICC Champions Trophy. Four round-robin group games and one semi-final will be played at The Oval in south London during the competition, which runs between 6th and 23rd June 2013.
Second in importance only to the Cricket World Cup and with a $2 million prize kitty for the winners, the ICC Champions Trophy features England, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies – the eight highest-ranked ODI teams. Initially held every two years, the 2013 event marks the first Champions Trophy since 2009, which was held in Pakistan and saw Australia take the spoils for a second consecutive tournament.
Holders Australia will put their main focus for the summer – the regaining of the Ashes – aside for a fortnight as they line up in Group A alongside England, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Meanwhile, hot favourites Pakistan – the only team, other than hosts England, never to lift the trophy – are pitted in Group B alongside arch-rivals India, West Indies and South Africa.
The tournament gets under way at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff on Thursday 6th June as India face South Africa. The first game at The Oval takes place on Friday 7th June and sees Pakistan's young but highly fancied side take on West Indies. Other group games at The Oval are India v West Indies (Tuesday 11th June), England's second Group A game against Sri Lanka (Thursday 13th June) and Australia v Sri Lanka (Monday 17th June). Travellers arriving to the city from outside London to watch any of the ICC Champions Trophy can book their accommodation on the website LondonTown.com, where there's a wide choice of hotels in London to suit all budgets and tastes.
Following the group stage, the two top teams from each group will progress to the semi-finals where the winner of Group A plays the runner-up of Group B (in the first semi-final) and the winner of Group B plays the runner-up of Group A (in the second semi-final). The first semi-final will take part at The Oval on Wednesday 19th June and could well feature those two sides looking to get a win before the competition ceases to exist, England and Pakistan. The final will be played at Edgbaston, Birmingham, on Sunday 23rd June.
The seventh and final ICC Champions Trophy – which is due to be replaced by the ICC World Test Championship in 2017 – is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cricket in the capital this summer. England have already beaten New Zealand in their opening Test Match of the summer at Lord's and the two sides will return to the same venue for the first of three ODIs on Friday 31st May. The Oval will host two evening Twenty20 games between England and New Zealand on Tuesday 25th June and Thursday 27th June. Then the Ashes will begin in earnest, with England facing Australia in the Second Test at Lord's from Thursday 18th July and the Fifth Test at The Oval from Wednesday 21st August.
Find out more about all of London's major sporting fixtures this year on the website LondonTown.com where you will find a dedicated London 2013: The Sporting Year feature.
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