The 10th cricket World Cup opened in a blaze of colour last night, launching a gruelling 49-match, six-week sporting marathon, which promises to be the most open for years.
The captains of the 14 competing teams paraded through Dhaka’s historic Bangabandhu Stadium in colourfully draped rickshaws as Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina looked on.
Ricky Ponting, skipper of defending champions Australia, led the sparkling three-wheeled procession at the start of the event.
Indian singer Sonu Nigam and Bangladesh-based Runa Laila as well as veteran Canadian rocker Bryan Adams were the headline acts among 3,500 performers.
“I hope that the games will be memorable and exciting,” said Sheikh Hasina.
“It gives me great pleasure to declare the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup open.”
Favourites India will go into the tournament opener against Bangladesh in Dhaka on Saturday in buoyant mood after two wins in their warm-up matches, including a crushing 117-run victory on Wednesday over New Zealand.
The final will be in Mumbai on April 2.
For all the latest news and views from India and Bangladesh: http://cricnepal.com/tournaments/world-cup/