International Cricket Council (ICC) President Sharad Pawar has described the occasion of the opening of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 as an 'historic day'.
He was speaking at an elaborate and colourful opening ceremony in Dhaka, Bangladesh which was witnessed by a packed house of 21,000 at the Bangabandhu Stadium.
"Today is a historic day when the people of Bangladesh join India and Sri Lanka together to host the ICC Cricket World Cup, and make this tournament the most memorable yet," Pawar said.
"Tonight we welcome the captains of the world’s top 14 teams to the opening ceremony of the 10th ICC Cricket World Cup. One of these captains before us tonight will stand in the magnificent new Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on 2 April and receive the ICC Cricket World Cup trophy. On behalf of the ICC, I wish you all the very best of luck.
"The ICC Cricket World Cup, our flagship event, provides the stage on which players have the rare opportunity to create legend and to write their own chapter in the history of this great sport. The greatest cricketers in the world will grace this event and I am sure that their ability, whether with bat or ball, will provide excitement and enjoyment for all cricket lovers.
"To the players and the match officials we wish you good fortune and look forward to some excellent performances," he added.
The opening ceremony featured performances from Chayanot, Sonu Nigam, Iraj Weeraratne, Runa Laila, Sabina Yasmin, Momtaz, Bryan Adams and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and the tournament was officially opened by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
"It is my great pleasure to be present at this colourful opening ceremony of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka," she said.
"We feel greatly privileged to co-host the cricket extravaganza in our beautiful country. I welcome the ICC officials, guests and spectators in this majestic ceremony.
"I would like to extend my thanks to the ICC for selecting Bangladesh to host the opening ceremony and eight matches in Bangladesh. My thanks go to the organisers and patrons for their immense labour to hold the ICC Cricket World Cup successfully. I congratulate my cricket-loving countrymen for their great enthusiasm and cooperation to make this event a grand success.
"Good luck to the players and I hope that fraternity among the nations will further be strengthened through this World Cup."
The tournament gets underway on 19th February when co-hosts Bangladesh and India meet in a game that overall favourites India, who are now 11/4 with , are expected to win despite Bangladesh beating them in a corresponding fixture in the 2007 tournament in the Caribbean.
© Cricket World 2011