NEW DELHI: Arch-rivals India and Pakistan will face off in Dubai after drawing the same group for this year’s Asia Cup, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) announced on late on Tuesday.
The two big guns play each other on Sept 19 in Dubai, the first time they will face off in the UAE since 2006. It will also mark the first time the arch-rivals do battle in Dubai; they have previously played 24 ODIs in Sharjah and two in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan have been overwhelmingly dominant in the UAE, winning 19 of the contests.
India suspended bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai attacks but the two teams continue to play each other in international tournaments, including the ICC Champions Trophy final in England last year.
This year’s Asia Cup was originally set to be held in India but was shifted to the United Arab Emirates because of strained relations between New Delhi and Islamabad.
The Asia Cup will feature 50-overs games between Full Members India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and a sixth team. The sixth team will be determined by a qualifying tournament — which runs from Aug 29 to Sept 6 — that includes United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hong Kong, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia and Oman.
The biennial tournament will begin Sept 15 in with Sri Lanka taking on Bangladesh in the opener, the ACC said.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai will be the venues for the tournament, where India is to serve as the official host. The Emirates Cricket Board is renting out the stadiums.
This will be the 14th edition of the Asia Cup. The first 12 were staged as ODI competitions, while the previous Asia Cup in 2016 was the first to be held as a T20I event, effectively as a warm-up event ahead of the World T20, held in India. India are the defending champions, having beaten Bangladesh in the final two years ago.
The 2018 Emerging Teams’ Asia Cup, meanwhile, will be co-hosted by Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Originally slated for April, the tournament has been moved to December. Pakistan will also play host to the next ACC Annual General Meeting, which will be held later this year.
Sept 15: Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka (Dubai).
Sept 16: Pakistan vs Qualifier (Dubai).
Sept 17: Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi).
Sept 18: India vs Qualifier (Dubai).
Sept 19: India vs Pakistan (Dubai).
Sept 20: Bangladesh vs Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi).
Sept 21: Group ‘A’ Winners vs Group ‘B’ Runners-up (Dubai).
Sept 21: Group ‘B’ Winners vs Group ‘A’ Runners-up (Abu Dhabi).
Sept 23: Group ‘A’ Winners vs Group ‘A’ Runners-up (Dubai).
Sept 23: Group ‘B’ Winners vs Group ‘B’ Runners-up (Abu Dhabi).
Sept 25: Group ‘A’ Winners vs Group ‘B’ Winners (Dubai).
Sept 26: Group ‘A’ Runners-up v Group ‘B’ Runners-up (Abu Dhabi).
Sept 28: Final (Dubai).
Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2018