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Cricket extravaganza poised to begin after lavish opening ceremony

Australia captain Ricky Ponting is introduced to the crowd in Dhaka at the Cricket World Cup opening ceremony.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting is introduced to the crowd in Dhaka at the Cricket World Cup opening ceremony.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lavish ceremony officially opens 2011 Cricket World Cup in Dhaka
  • Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India will host the tournament
  • The six-week competition is due to stage a total of 49 games
  • Australia aiming for fourth straight World Cup success

(CNN) -- The Bangladeshi capital Dhaka was transformed into a wall of noise and color Thursday as a lavish ceremony officially opened the Cricket World Cup.

A spectacular four-hour performance at the Bangabandhu Stadium showcased the cricket-crazy culture of the country, which is hosting the tournament along with south Asian neighbors India and Sri Lanka.

The ceremony included 3,500 performers as the captain of each participating nation was introduced to the crowd via the traditional mode of transport, a rickshaw.

Canadian pop star Bryan Adams took part in the festivities, along with Bangladesh singer Runa Laila and Sonu Nigam from India.

CNN blog: Cricket fever builds in Bangladesh

The city of Mirpur plays host to the first of 49 games over the six-week tournament on Friday as World Cup favorites India take on Bangladesh.

The last edition, in the Caribbean in 2007, was criticized for being complicated to follow and going on too long. Australia retained their title in the West Indies, and are aiming to win a fourth straight World Cup this time around.

We feel greatly privileged to co-host the cricket extravaganza in our beautiful country
--Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh's prime minister
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The International Cricket Council's (ICC) president Sharad Pawar told the crowd he was confident the 2011 installment would be the finest yet.

"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," he said.

"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."

Bangladesh's prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, hailed a momentous day for her country. "We feel greatly privileged to co-host the cricket extravaganza in our beautiful country," she said.

"I congratulate my cricket-loving countrymen for their great enthusiasm and cooperation to make this event a grand success."

Prior to the opening ceremony the ICC announced its disappointment that Salman Butt, Pakistan's former captain who was banned from the game for corruption, was to appear as a pundit covering the World Cup.

ICC chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, said he was "not satisfied" by Butt's role on a Pakistani television channel and would seek to clarify whether he is in breach of the terms of his ban.

It was also confirmed that players and officials would be banned from using their mobile phones during matches, to prevent them updating sites like Twitter.

New penalties were introduced for anyone found to break the new rules.