Shah, Ashraf finalise Asia Cup schedule; Indo-Pak matches in Dambulla

NEW DELHI, July 12: The much anticipated Asia Cup games between India and Pakistan will be held in Sri Lanka as agreed upon by the previous dispensation of host PCB, IPL Chairman Arun Dhumal confirmed on Wednesday.

Dhumal, who is in Durban for the ICC Chief Executives Meet (CEC), informed that BCCI secretary Jay Shah and new PCB management committee chairman Zaka Ashraf met ahead of ICC Board meeting on Thursday to finalise the Asia Cup schedule.

Ashraf, who took charge earlier this month, had expressed his displeasure over the hybrid model accepted by the previous regime under Najam Sethi. PCB has the hosting rights for the tournament to be held in Pakistan and Sri Lanka from August 31-September 17.

“Our secretary met PCB head Zaka Ashraf and the Asia Cup schedule was finalised and it is on course as it was discussed earlier. There will be four games of league stage in Pakistan, followed by 9 games in Sri Lanka including both India versus Pakistan game and a third game if both teams reach the final,” Dhumal told PTI.

Dhumal rubbished reports emerging from Pakistan media that India will travel to the neighbouring country as its sports minister Ehsan Mazari had been claiming.  “There was no such discussion held. Neither India is travelling to Pakistan nor our secretary will be travelling contrary to reports that have surfaced. Only the schedule was finalised,” Dhumal added. India, in all likelihood, will play Pakistan in Dambulla just like 2010 edition.   Pakistan’s only home match in their country will be against minnows Nepal.

The other three games are Afghanistan versus Bangladesh, Bangladesh versus Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka versus Afghanistan. Recently, Pakistan sports minister Mazari was quoted as saying that unless India come to Pakistan for the Asia Cup, Pakistan will not travel to India for the ODI World Cup.

A senior BCCI official said perhaps the Pakistan sports minister was “blissfully unaware” about the earlier meetings of Asian Cricket Council (ACC) where the all powerful executive committee had passed the hybrid model suggested by former chairman Najam Sethi.

“We aren’t concerned about the internal happenings of PCB. All that we know is that PCB is a signatory to the Hybrid Model which was proposed by their representative and passed at ACC’s highest body,” a senior ACC board member present during that meeting told PTI. “And just to refresh Pakistan’s honourable sports minister’s memory, it was PCB that had issued an official press release accepting that 4 games will be held in Pakistan and rest of the games in Sri Lanka,” he added.

As far as the World Cup is concerned, the PCB is bound by ICC’s Members’ Participation Agreement (MPA) which was signed by the full members in 2015 for an eight year period ending 2023.

“Once you have signed an MPA, you are contractually bound to play an ICC event at a venue decided by the global body. Obviously security measures and other determining factors are always taken into account. But if a country pulls off even if security is not an issue, there could be legal and financial implications,” the ICC member said. However, the same MPA doesn’t hold for the 2025 Champions Trophy which is scheduled to be held in Pakistan. (PTI)