The opening ceremony of the ICC Cricket World Cup got underway yesterday (Feb. 17) with the captains of the 14 competing teams paraded through Dhaka's Bangabandhu Stadium.
Protected by a sheet of bullet-proof glass, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina watched as home skipper Shakib Al Hasan received a rapturous welcome from the packed arena as he arrived at the rear of the unusual parade.
The two-hour event, in which Ricky Ponting, captain of defending champions Australia, led the sparkling three-wheeled procession, saw 3,500 performers putting on a show reflecting Indian, Sri Lankan, and Bangladeshi culture.
The performance by Lankan singers Bhatiya and Santhush, Indian singer Sonu Nigam and Bangladesh’s Runa Laila as well as veteran Canadian rocker Bryan Adams were the headline acts.
Meanwhile, all arrangements are being made to host the scheduled 2011 Cricket World Cup matches in Sri Lanka.
The matches are to be held in three state-of-the-art stadiums; R. Premadasa, Pallekelle and Sooriyawewa, completed in record time. The Sooriyawewa Stadium in Hambantota and the Pallekele Stadium have been newly constructed targeting this year’s World Cup. The first game in Sri Lanka will be played at the Sooriyawewa Stadium.
Twelve out of forty nine matches, including a quarter final and semi-final will be played in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s World Cup history goes back to 1975 when Sri Lanka first participated, while in 1996 Sri Lanka carried away the trophy as Champions.