Asia Cup set to be shifted from Pakistan to Sri Lanka

The 2023 Asia Cup that is scheduled to take place later this year is set to move from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, a report in The Indian Express said on Monday.

The likelihood of the tournament being shifted from Pakistan had increased recently, with BCCI secretary Jay Shah even stating that they refused to send the Indian team to Pakistan over lack of government clearance.
According to the report, Pakistan’s participation in the event is unclear, with reports saying that Pakistan could even boycott the event, scheduled to be held from September 2-17.

Following BCCI’s refusal to travel to Pakistan citing lack of government clearance, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had proposal for a hybrid model to host the tournament. In such a model, India would have played their matches in Dubai.

That proposal, however, hardly received any backing with the tournament’s official broadcasters even being concerned with it. The report also claims that Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have supported this idea of moving the tournament out of Pakistan and a decision on it is expected to be taken at the end of this month.

The report goes onto add that Oman had also offered to host the Asia Cup, but Sri Lanka had been considered an option keeping the conditions. It would be peak summer in September in the UAE, and the teams reportedly had reservations on playing a 50-over tournament in the Gulf region a month prior to the event.

“Najam Sethi (PCB chairman) was in Dubai today to procure support but to his horror there were no takers for his proposal of Pakistan playing its games in Karachi or Lahore and India playing in UAE. Sri Lanka was always with BCCI and now even Bangladesh Cricket Board seemed opposed to the idea,” an ACC source told PTI.

“ACC has always maintained that in principle the ‘hybrid model’ is unacceptable and the budgetary sanctions can never be passed.” “Also it’s not about Pakistan hosting its own matches. It also means that if India and Pakistan are in same group, the third team will be travelling to and fro between Dubai and a city in Pakistan,” the source added.

What added fuel to the fire is PCB’s recent decision to host Pakistan Super League’s matches in UAE due to escalated costs of security arrangements.

“Also logistically, the broadcasters wouldn’t want to send separate units in two countries. Sri Lanka, just like UAE doesn’t require inter-city flights whether you play at the Khettarama (Premadasa Stadium), SSC or Galle or Kandy,” he added.

However the ACC chairman Jay Shah will need to convene an Executive Body meeting to make the decision official. In the prevailing situation, whether Pakistan participates in the event or decides against coming to India for the World Cup remains to be seen.

“Even ICC won’t agree to Pakistan playing its matches outside India (during World Cup). So let’s see what PCB decides,” the source added.

Sri Lanka are the defending champions of the Asia Cup, having clinched the title in 2022, when it was played in the T20 format.