Pakistan currently has the hosting rights for the event but Jay Shah, in the capacity of ACC chairman, has favoured venue change due to political conflict between India and Pakistan.
PCB chairman Najam Sethi had proposed a ‘hybrid model’ where they will organise at least four games on home soil and India will play their matches at a neutral venue. It couldn’t be confirmed whether Sethi has been formally invited for the IPL final.
“As of now, the decision with regards to hosting of Asia Cup hasn’t yet been finalised. We are busy with IPL but the top dignitaries of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Bangladesh and Afghanistan Cricket Board are coming to watch the IPL final. We will have a discussion and take a final decision in due course,” Jay Shah told PTI.
It has been learnt from ACC sources that Sethi’s proposed hybrid model looks like a feasible solution although ACC had made no formal statements. According to the model, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan play four preliminary matches in Pakistan and India would play all their games at neutral venues.
The two India-Pakistan games will also be held in Sri Lanka although the PCB wants them in Dubai. The weather in UAE in September is not at all conducive for 50- over games although to make the ‘hybrid model’ work logistically, UAE is a far better option for the Asian Cricket Council.
“ACC head Jay Shah will summon an executive body meeting where a formal announcement will take place. The PCB doesn’t mind playing India at a neutral venue,” an ACC official said.
“PCB would prefer Dubai because it would lead to more gate receipts but it is open to playing in another country (read Sri Lanka) provided the ACC matches the gate receipts amount (USD 0.5 million) that Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) received in 2022 from the Indo-Pak games in Dubai.”
The window for the Asia Cup this year is between September 1-17.
Asia Cup format and other modalities
The six teams in the Asia Cup are India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal. One group will have India, Pakistan and Nepal while the other group will comprise Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
According to ACC sources, if the ‘hybrid model’ goes ahead, then Pakistan would like to host the following four games in their country. These games are Pakistan vs Nepal, Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, Bangladesh vs Afghanistan and Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka.
As per the format, the top two teams from each group will constitute Super Fours where they again play against each other. After the Super Four round robin phase, the top two teams will play the final.
The Super Fours will ensure that at least two Indo-Pak encounters are guaranteed, which is profitable for the host nation, broadcaster as well as ACC. If India and Pakistan qualify for the summit clash, then it will be three matches between the arch-rivals.
“Sethi has said that in preliminary round, Pakistan is only playing Nepal. His proposal is to make it six games with two Super four non-India matches, involving Pakistan to be played in Pakistan,” the ACC source added.
As far as final is concerned, even if India doesn’t qualify, the ACC will conduct it at a designated neutral country — Sri Lanka or UAE.
With inputs from PTI
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