The International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed groups and preliminary fixtures for the 2015 cricket World Cup, to be held across Australia and New Zealand.

Matches start on 14 February and the tournament's showpiece game - the final - is scheduled for the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on 29 March. The semi-finals will be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) and Eden Park in Auckland.

There will be a total of 14 teams competing for the most prestigious championship in the limited overs format of the game, with two groups - Pool A and Pool B - of seven teams each.

"The 2015 tournament will mark 40 years since the first World Cup in 1975 and that history of great contests and heroes helps make the tournament what it is - the most sought-after prize in our increasingly global game," chief executive David Richardson said after the draw.

The 10 Full Member nations of the ICC will qualify directly, with the remaining four coming from qualifiers involving lower-ranked teams.

Ireland have already confirmed their participation as one of four Associate Members. The Irish, who have now made it to the World Cup three editions in a row, snatched a dramatic tie against the Netherlands, in ICC World League Championship, to earn the one point they needed.

Scotland, Netherlands, Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates all remain capable of taking the second available spot from the World League Championship; the next round of games will take place from 6 August to 11 August and only one of these four will progress.

According to qualification rules, the six of eight teams from this tournament that fail to qualify will play-off against Hong Kong, Nepal, Uganda and Papua New Guinea, next year, for the final two positions.

Draw Details

Meanwhile, the draw has thrown up some hugely interesting fixtures.

Co-hosts Australia and New Zealand have been drawn together in Pool A, with the Aussies' Ashes nemesis England thrown in for good measure. Former champions Sri Lanka are also in this group, with their local rivals, Bangladesh, and two qualifiers.

This leaves arch-rivals India and Pakistan in Pool B, with the ever-dangerous South Africa for company. West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland and the final qualifier make up the rest of the competition.

Opening Match

The first match sees New Zealand face Sri Lanka at Christchurch. Australia face England later in the day, at the MCG. The India - Pakistan tie is scheduled for Sunday, 15 February, at the Adelaide Oval.

For the full fixture list, click here.

"We have been improving steadily as a one-day side in recent years and are very much looking forward to the challenge of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. We will be working hard in the coming months to ensure we give ourselves the best possible opportunity to go one step further in 2015," England captain Alistair Cook explained, adding, "Playing cricket in Australia and New Zealand is always a fantastic experience and I have no doubt it will be another great occasion both for the teams and their supporters."

Pool A: England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Qualifier Two and Qualifier Three

Pool B: South Africa, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Qualifier Four