India will begin the defence of its Champions Trophy title against arch-rivals Pakistan at next year’s tournament in England and Wales, the International Cricket Council announced Wednesday.

The June 4 2017 clash between the sub-continental giants will take place at the Edgbaston ground in Birmingham — a city with one of the largest Asian populations in England.

India-Pakistan is arguably the biggest fixture in international cricket, drawing huge worldwide television audiences, which in turn help attract major sponsors.

Indian Cricket Team

As a result, it’s no surprise when ICC events, such as last year’s World Cup and this year’s World Twenty20, see the two countries in the same group, with officials reluctant to miss out on an India-Pakistan game by having one or other side bow out before the knockout phase.

And with government interference often scuppering bilateral India-Pakistan fixtures, next year’s Champions Trophy clash will be eagerly awaited by millions of fans around the world.

“No doubt we want to try and pit India versus Pakistan in our event,” said ICC chief executive David Richardson at the tournament launch at The Oval on Wednesday — exactly a year before the 2017 Champions Trophy starts.

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Former South Africa wicket-keeper Richardson added: “It’s massive around the world, and it’s probably no coincidence the two keep ending up in the same group.”

‘Intense event’

India beat England by five runs at Edgbaston in a rain-reduced final to win the Champions Trophy, a tournament for the world’s top eight 50-over one-day international (ODI) nations, at the last edition in 2013.

Pakistan vs India

“Having won the event in 2013, we know how intense this event can be and we are under no illusion that it will be any different next year,” said India captain MS Dhoni in an ICC statement.

The 2017 opener at The Oval, Surrey’s headquarters in south London, on June 1 sees England up against Bangladesh, who knocked them out of last year’s 50-over World Cup with a stunning win in Adelaide.

World champions Australia will start their bid to win a third Champions Trophy against New Zealand at Edgbaston on June 2, 2017 in a repeat of the 2015 World Cup final.

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The 2017 Champions Trophy will run from June 1-18, with the three venues — The Oval, Edgbaston and Cardiff — the same grounds that were used for the 2013 edition.

The top eight sides in the 50-over world rankings as at September 30 2015 have qualified for the tournament and that meant there was no place for World Twenty20 champions the West Indies, beaten to eighth spot by Pakistan.

World champions Australia are in a Group A also featuring New Zealand, England and Bangladesh, back in the tournament for the first time since 2006.

Pakistan Cricket Team

Group B comprises India, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

The top two teams in each group will go forward to semi-finals atCardiff, the capital of Wales, and Edgbaston on June 14 and 15 respectively, with The Oval, staging the final.

Unlike 2013, there will be a reserve day in place for next year’s final.

England and Wales Cricket Board director – events, Steve Elworthy said: “The ICC Champions Trophy was a huge success in 2013, with packed grounds and thrilling cricket, so we look forward to welcoming it back to England and Wales this time next year.”

The former South Africa paceman added: “It will start three years of global events in England and Wales, with the ICC Women’s World Cup following shortly after and then the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019.

“It is without doubt an exciting time for cricket in this country.”