Asia Cup is waiting to be commenced shortly this year. Almost all the selected countries are ready with their final squads for the tournament. Previously, it was all set that Pakistan would host the entire tournament. But recently the decision is going to be something different. The venue for the upcoming Asia Cup 2023 might be shifted to Sri Lanka. However, this article will discuss this year’s newly decided host country for Asia Cup.
The entire scenario:
The Asian Cricket Council is planning to shift the Asia Cup 2023 matches from Pakistan, and Sri Lanka will be hosting the tournament. As soon as BCCI Secretary Mr Shah said that the Indian cricketers would not cross the border; the decision to shift the event from the original host country was inevitable.
The tournament is scheduled to be hosted between September 2 and 17. However, a final decision on the venue for the Cup is expected by the end of May, with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan backing the move to organise the event in the island nation.
The decision turned out to be a formality, despite the PCB’s continued interest in holding the tournament at home and India’s support from other ACC members. The Pak Board had proposed a hybrid approach to host the Asia Cup 2023; wherein India’s matches alone would be staged in Dubai. It was done in response to the BCCI’s rejection to travel to Pakistan for the event due to a lack of government approval.
None has expressed interest in that appeal, and the tournament channel broadcaster also voiced concerns about the logistics. The other boards hesitated to play in the Gulf a month before the 50-over ICC World Cup because September is the high-tempered summer in the United Arab Emirates.
However, UAE hosted the Asia Cup in 2018. At that time, India was to host the matches, and Pakistan refused to tour India showing security concerns. In 2018, the tournament was played in the 50-over format. Then again; the United Arab Emirates hosted the Asia Cup tournament in 2022 in the T20 format, as Sri Lanka needed help to host the tournament due to their financial struggles.
Pakistan might be out-listed:
Since 2008, Pakistan has shown keen interest in hosting the Asia Cup 2023 in their country for the first time. Although BCCI has firmly stated no to travelling across to play in Pakistan for several reasons; Pakistan put other options on the table. Other stakeholders and participating nations have also shown interest in shifting the venue to Sri Lanka from Pakistan. Another UAE venue was on the cards but was dropped considering the extreme heat conditions during September.
As per the reports making rounds, Pakistan might not be enlisted in the latest edition of Asia Cup 2023 if the hosting rights shift from their country to Sri Lanka. Considering the current events; if Sri Lanka gets to host the entire tournament, it will be their 5th time only to host the event and the first since 2010. Sri Lanka was the winner of the Asia Cup 2022. The Asia Cup will be a six-team event if Pakistan confirms its participation. Apart from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, Nepal has qualified for the tournament by winning the ACC’s Premier Cup.
Pakistan’s ‘Hybrid’ Proposal:
With both countries being at loggerheads since last year, Pakistan came up with an alternate plan that sees them retaining the organising rights whilst also not requiring India to cross the border. According to this hybrid model, the matches would have been played across 2 different venues. All the matches with India were to be held in a neutral venue, with the UAE then being touted as a possible candidate. The other games were to be held in Pakistan in adherence to the initial plans.
The Pakistan Board sustained a blow when reportedly; barring India, three other nations – Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan, rejected the proposed hybrid model. The tournament being played in two countries would have meant that any team that played with India would have had to travel to the neutral venue from Pakistan; only to return to Pakistan for their next match possibly. It posed a major logistical and financial challenge for all the teams, leading to the proposal’s rejection.
However, the Asia Cup 2023 is almost all set to move to Sri Lanka. Most of the ACC members have given their consent, including India.