COLOMBO: Having seen the first heavyweight clash between Pakistan and India at the Asia Cup washed out, the Pakistan Cricket Board seems to be taking no chances with the second.
Tournament organisers PCB on Friday added a reserve day for the Super Four clash between India and Pakistan after their group-stage encounter ended with only an innings being played, a move that drew criticism from other participating teams.
The arch-rivals are scheduled to play at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Sunday (Sept 10) but thundery showers are forecast for the Sri Lankan capital over the weekend.
The weather in Colombo is expected to get better from Monday afternoon.
“If adverse weather suspends play during the Pak vs India game, the match will continue on Sept 11, 2023 from the point it was suspended,” the PCB said in a press release issued on Friday.
“In such an eventuality, ticket-holders are advised to retain their match tickets, which will remain valid and will be utilised for the reserve day.”
The PCB, it is believed, managed to convince the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) to agree to set a reserve day for the match between Pakistan and India.
It must be noted, however, if the match goes to the reserve day, India will have to play back-to-back matches since they are scheduled to play Sri Lanka on Sept 12.
Sri Lanka, the defending champions, face Bangladesh in another Super Four stage match at the same venue in Colombo on Saturday. This match is also under a cloud of rain threat.
However, Pakistan-India is the only match in the Super Four stage for which a reserve day has been kept, an unusual development which has drawn guarded criticism from the coaches of both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- the other two teams in the Super Four stage.
“Little surprised when I first heard, but at the same time we are not the organisers of the competition so not a lot we can do about that,” Sri Lankan coach Chris Silverwood said.
“To be honest it will be a problem if the reserve day then provides points to the teams and not someone else, but nothing we can do about so we keep preparing and do the best we can.”
Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusingha expressed the same feeling, saying that the decision -- to keep a reserve day for the India-Pakistan match -- was not taken after consultation with the other teams of the six-nation continental event. Afghanistan and Nepal, the other two teams, exited the competition after the group stage.
“I haven’t seen this kind of thing in another tournament… this changing rules in the middle of the tournament. There is a technical committee [in Asia Cup] represented by every participating country. They might have decided it for some other reason. It is not ideal, and we also would have liked to have an extra day,” he said.
“Other than that I don’t have much comment because they [technical committee] have made a decision.”
The highly-anticipated Asia Cup group stage match between India and Pakistan ended without a result in Pallekele last Saturday after India made 266 all out in the only innings possible before the rain came down.
It is understood that there might have been pressure from the event broadcasters to have a reserve day in place, particularly after the group-stage fixture, which brings in huge ad revenue, was washed out.
The reserve-day issue is the latest controversy that this edition of the Asia Cup has witnessed.
Starting from venue changes to differences in adopting a ‘hybrid’ model and a second host country other than Pakistan (the original hosts), the Asia Cup saw plenty of drama even before it eventually started in Multan on Aug 30.
And after the group match between India and Pakistan was washed out, there were even discussions about taking the tournament out of Colombo and play it in Hambantota.
But the ACC stuck to the original schedule despite heavy rain forecast for the weekend matches.
Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2023