The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) didn’t consider Hambantota as an option to host the 2023 Asia Cup Super Fours and final, even though there were rumours about a potential venue change due to weather concerns in Colombo. While the rain didn’t affect the first match in Colombo between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, it did disrupt the India-Pakistan game, with only 24.1 overs played on the scheduled day. Thankfully, the availability of a reserve day ensured a result in the match.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) also proposed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as an alternative, a location that had hosted the last two Asia Cup editions. However, the Asian Cricket Council and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) were not enthusiastic about this choice due to the intense heat.
According to an insider monitoring the situation informed Cricket Next:
“Team India’s management wasn’t keen to play in the UAE because of the heat. Playing a T20 there is different but a 50-over-a-side contest, right before the World Cup, didn’t look like an ideal option to the team management. The concern was heard.”
Before the start of the Asia Cup 2023 Super Four stage, Jay Shah released a statement in response to inquiries from former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi.
“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,” Jay Shah said.
Consequently, Colombo was officially designated as the host for the rest of the tournament. The location is set to accommodate three additional Super Four stage matches and the final is scheduled for Sunday, September 17. Regarding the uncertainty regarding Hambantota as a potential Asia Cup venue, the insider stated:
“Hambantota was never discussed. The ACC never recommended Hambantota’s name. Yes, there were concerns around hosting the games in Colombo but Hambantota wasn’t being explored as an option. Colombo remained the best bet considering all the logistics and other requirements.”
The possibility of rain persists for the upcoming matches, and this could potentially influence the Super Four stage’s final standings. It’s important to mention that there’s a reserve day scheduled for the tournament final on Monday, September 18.
“A broadcaster pays out nearly $40 million for the Asia Cup…out of those 40, $38 million is for India vs Pakistan alone” – Industry sources
After designating a reserve day only for the India vs. Pakistan match in the Super Four stage, there was significant criticism from fans and experts. Although the decision seemed to be made with the consent of the other participating teams, the issue of inequality was evident. Highlighting the significance of the India-Pakistan match, insiders who follow the developments in the cricket industry informed Cricket Next:
“A broadcaster pays out nearly $40 million for the Asia Cup. Out of those 40, $38 millionsis for India vs Pakistan alone. That is one game we are talking about and then there is Super 4 and the final which comes along as a bonus or incentive. So for the commercial and financial health of the tournament, India vs Pakistan is utmost priority.”
The inclusion of a reserve day has compelled India to participate for the third consecutive day in the Asia Cup 2023. The Indian team will face Sri Lanka at the same venue on Tuesday.