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Lavish ceremony launches World Cup

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Andrew Strauss

The 14 World Cup captains, including England's Andrew Strauss, pictured, were presented in a succession of decorated rickshaws

The World Cup officially got under way following a colourful opening ceremony in Dhaka tonight that ended with Bryan Adams singing his well-known hits.

A short set of the Canadian rocker's favourites did the trick for 21,000 people inside the Bangabandhu National Stadium.

Adams concluded a vibrant evening which began with the entry of England’s Andrew Strauss and the other 13 World Cup captains behind tournament mascot Stumpy the elephant in a succession of ornately decorated rickshaws.

They were presented to a hugely enthusiastic crowd, impatient for the tournament to start as it will on Saturday at the nearby Shere Bangla Stadium when co-hosts Bangladesh and India clash.

International Cricket Council president Sharad Pawar and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina were among the dignitaries.

A colourful and enthusiastic array of entertainment followed their speeches, headlined by a skydivers’ cricket match against the lit backdrop of a tower block adjacent to the stadium.

Pawar told his audience, and cricket followers the world over, they were witnessing a “historic” day as the sub-continent welcomed the event for the first time since 1996.

“Tonight we welcome the captains of the world’s top 14 teams to the opening ceremony of the 10th ICC Cricket World Cup,” he said.

“One of these captains before us tonight will stand in the magnificent new Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 2 and receive the ICC Cricket World Cup trophy.

“On behalf of the ICC, I wish you all the very best of luck.”

England will begin their quest in Nagpur against the Netherlands next Tuesday.

But tomorrow they take on Pakistan in their second and final warm-up match in Fatullah, scene of yesterday’s narrow victory over Canada and an hour’s drive from the Bangabandhu, but in unfussy surroundings a world away from the bright lights and fireworks of tonight.

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