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Easy draw for India
- Dhoni & Co. clubbed with South Africa, England and West Indies

Calcutta: Apart from enjoying the advantage of home conditions in the 2011 World Cup, India will have another edge in the quadrennial event as they have been placed in a relatively easy group.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the groupings after the second day of the board meeting in Johannesburg Wednesday.

India, who will be co-hosting the mega event with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, have been clubbed with South Africa, England, the West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and the Netherlands in Group B.

Group A comprises Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya.

The groupings have made Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men job a tad easy as South Africa, England and the West Indies appear the only tough contenders.

Moreover, the Windies challenge might be weakened if the West Indies Cricket Board fails to resolve the differences with their top players that has kept the likes of Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo out of action.

India are currently ranked No. 2, behind Ricky Ponting’s Australia.

The last edition of the 50-over format World Cup in the West Indies in 2007 was a forgettable experience for Team India as the Rahul Dravid-led side failed to progress further than the group stages.

When the World Cup was last held in the subcontinent, in 1996, India had made the semi-finals before bowing out to co-hosts Sri Lanka.

Group A, however, is certainly the group of death as defending champions Australia will have to fight off strong challenges from Pakistan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

Besides the ICC president David Morgan and ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, representatives of 10 full members and three associate members attended the meeting. The Board of Control for Cricket in India president Shashank Manohar represented India.

The other decisions and issues which came up for discussion in the meeting were:

The schedule for the ICC U-19 World Cup, which will take place in New Zealand in January 2010, was approved by the board.

A discussion took place on the promotion of cricket and it was decided that further research would be carried out on concepts like day/night Tests.

The ICC board also approved in principle the draft Future Tours Programme (FTP) post-2012 as recommended by the ICC chief executives’ committee last week. The draft programme was agreed subject to no member being disadvantaged relative to the current FTP.

It was decided that discussions on the controversial ‘whereabouts’ clause of the World Anti-Doping Agency will continue and, in the meantime, in-competition and out-of-competition drug testing of all international cricketers will continue as usual.

The board received an update on the Pepsi ICC Development Programme and heard specifically from ICC principal advisor I.S. Bindra on the work currently under way to promote cricket in the US and China. As part of his report, Bindra highlighted the development potential in both the US and China and encouraged all Full Members to play more competitive cricket in those countries.

The board unanimously approved a new and enhanced ICC Code of Conduct, Anti-Corruption Code and Anti-Racism Code.

The board received updates from a number of task teams, including those charged with looking into Zimbabwe, Pakistan and the general security around international cricket.

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