The threat of rain has cast a shadow over the Asia Cup 2023 matches held in Sri Lanka during the group stages. The highly-anticipated India vs. Pakistan clash in the Asia Cup was marred by relentless rain, allowing only one innings to be played and resulting in a shared point outcome. India’s final group match also fell victim to rain but yielded a result as the team successfully chased a revised target in a shortened match in Pallekele.
All three games played in Sri Lanka thus far have suffered disruptions due to rain, prompting criticism of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) for choosing Sri Lanka as the tournament’s host. After the abandonment of the India-Pakistan game, former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi, who took on an interim role following Ramiz Raja’s removal as PCB chairman last year, criticized the ACC for scheduling the continental tournament in Sri Lanka. Originally, the Asia Cup was supposed to be hosted entirely by Pakistan.
However, due to concerns raised by the BCCI regarding travel to Pakistan, Sri Lanka was selected as a co-host. Sethi revealed in a social media post that he had proposed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the venue for the prestigious continental tournament. However, this suggestion was declined on the grounds of hot weather conditions in the Gulf country.
“How disappointing! Rain mars the greatest contest in cricket. But this was forecast. As PCB Chair, I urged the ACC to play in UAE but poor excuses were made to accommodate Sri Lanka. Too hot in Dubai, they said. But it was as hot when the Asia Cup was played there last time in Sep 2022 or when IPL was played there in April 2014 and Sep 2020. Politics over sport. Unforgivable!” Sethi had written.
His post had since gained significant attention on the social media platform, and on Tuesday, ACC president Jay Shah issued an official statement explaining the decision to not host the tournament in the UAE. Shah attributed this decision to teams’ reluctance to play ODIs in the UAE heat and to abrupt changes at the top of the PCB.
“The Asia Cup 2022 edition was played in the UAE in the T20 format. It’s important to emphasize that the dynamics of a T20 tournament cannot be directly compared to those of a 100-over One-day format,” Shah said, as quoted by PTI.
“In this context, ACC members received feedback from their respective high-performance teams, expressing concerns about playing One-day matches in the UAE in the month of September. Such a schedule could have potentially led to player fatigue and an increased risk of injuries, particularly right before the all-important ICC Cricket World Cup.
All the full members, media rights holder, and in-stadia rights holders were initially hesitant to commit to hosting the entire tournament in Pakistan. This reluctance stemmed from concerns related to the security and economic situation prevailing in the country,” Jay Shah explained.
Jay Shah further clarified that the delay in announcing the Asia Cup schedule was due to “several changes” in the Pakistan Cricket Board.
“In my capacity as ACC President, I was committed to finding a viable and mutually agreeable solution. To this end, I had accepted the hybrid model that was proposed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in collaboration with the ACC management. However, it’s important to note that the leadership of the PCB underwent several changes, and this resulted in some back-and-forth negotiations, particularly regarding crucial aspects such as tax exemption and insurance for matches,” Shah added.