NEW DELHI: Asian Cricket Council president Jay Shah on Tuesday attributed the body’s decision to host Asia Cup matches in Sri Lanka on teams’ reluctance to play ODIs in the UAE heat and abrupt changes at the top of Pakistan Cricket Board.
Shah defended the move after former PCB president Najam Sethi’s recent comments in which he mentioned that during his tenure he had suggested that the 2023 Asia Cup be staged in the UAE instead of Sri Lanka, parts of which are experiencing heavy rainfall.
In a statement, Shah said: “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.
“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.”
The ACC has come under criticism after fans were denied what could have been a thrilling finish to the highly-anticipated match between India and Pakistan at Pallekele on Saturday. Incessant rain led to a washout of the second innings, leaving the two teams to share a point each.
“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,” Shah said further.
“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 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.
Besides Sethi, former India cricketer Virender Sehwag also appeared to take a dig at the ACC for the scheduling of the tournament.
Rain had interrupted the proceedings of the much-anticipated Asia Cup clash thrice on Saturday evening after India opted to bat first, eventually leading to an abandonment.
The next day, Sethi slammed the scheduling, saying his suggestion to play in the UAE was turned down and “poor excuses” were made to accommodate Sri Lanka.
COLOMBO TO KEEP MATCHES
The Press Trust of India news agency reported on Tuesday that the ACC had decided to keep the Asia Cup Super 4 and final matches in Colombo itself as the weather has shown signs of improvement in the Sri Lankan capital.
It has been speculated over the last few days that the Super 4 and final games of the tournament could be shifted to Hambantota after heavy rains lashed Colombo.
The ACC held parleys with Sri Lanka Cricket, hosts PCB and the official broadcaster before arriving at the decision to keep the matches in Colombo itself, the report said.
It added that broadcasters had “explained the difficulties to relocate their equipment and staff to Hambantota, a deep Southern district, at such a short notice”.
The SLC suggested Hambantota as an alternate venue for the five Asia Cup Super 4 matches and the final as the city has been experiencing a drought over the last few weeks.
The Sri Lanka-leg of Super 4 starts with a game between India and Pakistan on September 10 at the R Premadasa Stadium.
Sri Lanka was added as co-hosts alongside original tournament hosts Pakistan under a hybrid model after India refused to play their matches across their western border owing to geopolitical tension between the two countries.
Under the hybrid model, four games were scheduled in Pakistan, and the rest in Sri Lanka.
Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2023