The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) today shifted the 50-over Asia Cup from India to United Arab Emirates as the BCCI could not get permission from the central government to hosts Pakistan.
The tournament will now be held from September 13-28 in Dubai and Abu Dhabi after all the member nations of ACC agreed unanimously for the change during a meeting at its Kuala Lumpur headquarters.
The BCCI was represented by its CEO Rahul Johri, who placed the request during the meeting chaired by PCB chairman Najam Sethi.
“Johri apprised the ACC board of the current situation. The BCCI has got a clearance that they can play Pakistan at a neutral venue. While it is a given for ICC tournaments, Asia Cup being an ACC tournament needed a government approval. Once the approval to allow Indian team play Pakistan at a neutral venue was agreed upon, the board’s request was placed,” a senior BCCI official told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
He agreed that in current scenario, chances of hosting Pakistan was next to nil.
“Since this is not World Cup, Champions Trophy or World T20, it was a foregone conclusion that the government would not approve BCCI hosting Pakistan in prevailing circumstances. The public sentiment needs to be respected,” the official said.
The Indian team is expected to play its matches in the second week of the tournament as they would have just completed their tour of England.
“UAE will be facilitating the organization but all the other modalities remain same. The Star Sports will be broadcasting the tournament and the gate money (collection from tickets and in stadia) will be BCCI’s. Obviously BCCI will be paying the Emirates Cricket Board a facilitation fee,” the official further informed.
The reason for zeroing in on UAE is purely logistical.
“India wouldn’t have played in Pakistan. But UAE is one place where there is a sizeable population of India, Pakistan and even Afghanistan. Even non-India matches is expected to attract a lot of crowd. If you see, 1 dirham is nearly Rs 18 (INR 17.69 as of today). Had the tournament been in held in India, matches like Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka wouldn’t have attracted much crowd,” the official added.
The Asia Cup is a biennial event which is now held in both ODI and T20 formats.
In 2016, it was held in the T20 format as the teams wanted to prepare for the World T20, which was scheduled just after the event. This time it will be a 50-over event as teams are now gearing up for next year’s ODI World Cup in England.