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Hosts given boost

DHAKA, February 18- Hosts India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will play their knock-out matches at home if they get past the preliminary rounds in the World Cup, the governing body confirmed on Friday.

But if two host countries draw each other, the team placed higher in the pre-tournament seeding will get preference, International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat said in Dhaka.

It means India, seeded higher than both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, will play the entire knock-out stage on home soil if they get that far.

"I can confirm that the three host countries will play the knock-out rounds on their own grounds," Lorgat told reporters ahead of Saturday’s opening match between India and Bangladesh in Dhaka.

This means the original match schedule where specific quarter-final games were slotted will change — depending on where the hosts finish.

According to the schedule, the second quarter-final in the Indian city of Ahmedabad on March 24 was to feature the third-placed team in group B against the second team in group A.

But even if India do not finish third in group B, they will still play in Ahmedabad against a side which will not know their venue till the last league match ends on March 20.

According to the fixtures, the quarter-final line-up is A1 v B4, A2 v B3, A3 v B2 and A4 v B1 – so if India finish second, they will take on the third-placed team from group A.

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If Sri Lanka are drawn against India, they will travel to Ahmedabad. Otherwise they will play their quarter-final in Colombo on March 26.

Bangladesh will play their quarter-final at Dhaka on either March 23 or March 25 if they qualify provided they are not drawn against either India or Sri Lanka.

The host country rule will also apply for the semi-finals in Colombo on March 29 and Mohali on March 30.

The format for the 2011 tournament is similar to the one in 1992 when New Zealand, who co-hosted the event with Australia, were slotted to play their semi-final in Auckland.

In 1996, there was no special provision for the hosts and Pakistan were forced to travel to Bangalore for their quarter-final against India.

In 2003 and 2007 when the Super-Sixes and Super-Eights format was in place for the second round, it did not matter where a team finished since the pre-tournament seedings were applied.

It made it easier for fans to make travel plans, knowing where their respective teams would play.

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