Pakistan and Sri Lanka have finally been confirmed as the co-hosts of cricket’s men's national teams’ Asia Cup.
Under a hybrid hosting model announced by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) yesterday (June 15), four fixtures from the six-team tournament will take place in Pakistan and the remaining nine in Sri Lanka. Matches will take place between August 31 and September 17, with the locations having been confirmed with little over two months to go.
The tournament was originally meant to be held solely in Pakistan after an ACC decision in October 2021, but joint staging became necessary when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said repeatedly that its team would not travel to Pakistan for games.
The political relationship between those two nations is extremely frosty, and this has extended into the sporting sphere, with the arguments over the staging of the Asia Cup an extension of that tension.
Notwithstanding the fact it will be putting on fewer than half the total number of matches, this still marks the first time since 2008 that games from a multi-nation cricket tournament will take place in Pakistan.
Pakistan technically remains the host nation of the one-day international tournament, with Sri Lanka as an approved neutral venue.
Najam Sethi, chair of the management committee at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), said: “I am elated that our hybrid version for the ACC Asia Cup 2023 has been accepted. This means the PCB will remain as the event host and stage matches in Pakistan with Sri Lanka as the neutral venue, which was required due to the Indian cricket team's inability to travel to Pakistan.
"Our passionate fans would have loved to see the India cricket team in action in Pakistan for the first time in 15 years, but we understand the BCCI's position.
"I now look forward to continuing our discussions and deliberations with the ACC and Sri Lanka Cricket to iron out a few minor operational and logistical details so that we can launch our event planning and preparations.”
The six teams are split into two groups, with India, Pakistan, and Nepal in one and Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan in the other. A Super Four round-robin stage will follow from those groups after the elimination of two sides, with the top two sides in that then going head to head in the tournament final.
The PCB has always been keen on ensuring that at least part of the tournament be played in its home nation.
Sri Lanka was approved as a second venue after other possibilities – including the United Arab Emirates, where the 2022 Asia Cup was held – were discounted.
Sri Lanka are defending champions, although last year’s Asia Cup was played in the Twenty20 format.
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