July 20, 2023
ISLAMABAD – The 2023 Asia Cup will kick off in Multan on August 30 — a day earlier than originally planned — with Pakistan clashing against Nepal in the six-nation tournament’s opening match.
The match in Multan will also mark the return of the Asia Cup to Pakistan after 15 years as it prepares to co-host the tournament with Sri Lanka on the basis of a hybrid model.
The model was approved for the tournament by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) last month after the Board of Control for Cricket in India refused to send its team to the neighbouring country for the tournament.
The ACC and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced the schedule for the tournament today, according to which the 50-over event will be held from August 30 to September 17 with Pakistan staging four matches and Sri Lanka nine.
Four venues would be used for the 13-match tournament, a PCB press release said, adding that after the opening match in Multan, the remaining three matches in Pakistan would be held in Lahore.
Sri Lanka would use Kandy for the three first-round matches and Colombo for the five Super-4 stage fixtures and the September 17 final, it said.
The first Pakistan-India clash is scheduled on September 2 in Kandy and if both teams advance to the Super-4 stage, their second faceoff will take place in Colombo on September 10.
Pakistan and India are seeded as A1 and A2, respectively, with Nepal as the third side in Group A, while Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are seeded as B1 and B2 in Group B, respectively, with Afghanistan as the third side.
If Nepal and Afghanistan progressed to the Super-4 stage from their respective groups, they would take the seeding of the sides that had dropped out in the first round, the press release said.
‘Asia Cup homecoming’
With the schedule’s announcement, Zaka Ashraf, the chairman of the PCB’s interim management committee, said: “As event hosts, the ACC’s Asia Cup 2023 schedule announcement provides us absolute clarity on how we will plan and deliver this tournament so that it is enjoyable for the participants and the fans. Our arrangements and hospitality are second to none and this will be a great opportunity to once again showcase this at an international level.
“For Pakistan, it will be the homecoming of the ACC Asia Cup after 15 long years. Our fans have waited for this for a long time and, as such, we look forward to making it bigger and better so that the fans and participants can start counting down days leading up to the ICC Champions Trophy, which Pakistan will host in February 2025.”
In his statement included in the press release, Ashraf congratulated Nepal on qualifying for the Asia Cup and said he looked forward to welcoming them along with Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
“Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have previously played in Pakistan, it will be the first of many times for Nepal and Afghanistan, and I remain confident they will take away memories that will stay with them for a very long time.”
Moreover, he said, he was “extremely happy for the Multan fans who will be the host of the ACC Asia Cup 2023 opener and will see their national side in action in a multi-team tournament for the first time since 1994”.
“It remains one of my top priorities to ensure competitive cricket returns to historic venues across the country.
“From the Pakistan team’s perspective, it will be an excellent opportunity for them to play in high-profile pressure matches and also aim to reclaim the title they last won in 2012. They have all the potential and capability to do that and a strong performance in the Asia Cup will give them the encouragement and confidence for subsequent series and events,” the press release quoted him as saying.
The press release also carried a statement by ACC President and BCCI Secretary Jay Shah, who said: “We are thrilled to announce the highly anticipated Men’s ODI Asia Cup 2023, a celebration of cricketing excellence that unites the nations of Asia in the spirit of competition and camaraderie. As President of the Asian Cricket Council, I extend my warmest regards and heartfelt wishes to all participating teams.”
He added that the “Asia Cup holds a special place in the hearts of cricket enthusiasts across the continent”.
“It goes beyond being just a tournament; it symbolises the rich tapestry of cultures, traditions and shared passion for the game that binds our diverse nations together. This prestigious event not only showcases the cricketing prowess of the players but also fosters a sense of unity and brotherhood among Asian countries.
“Let the tournament be a celebration of cricket’s beauty, a display of sporting excellence and a reflection of the unity that binds our nations together. Together, let us witness cricketing magic unfold, as each match becomes a chapter in a larger narrative of friendship and sportsmanship,” Shah said.
Asia Cup hosting row
Today’s announcement of the Asia Cup schedule follows a row over the tournament’s hosting that began last year with India’s refusal to travel to Pakistan for the competition.
Pakistan responded by threatening to boycott the World Cup in India in October-November should they be forced to stage the entire Asia Cup in another country.
The stalemate was finally resolved last month when the Asian Cricket Council accepted Pakistan’s hybrid-model solution with matches split between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
India will now play their Asia Cup matches at neutral venues in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, Zaka Ashraf — who recently replaced Najam Sethi as the interim chief of the PCB management committee and is also the prime minister’s nominee for the PCB chairman — said he would respect the hybrid model agreed by his predecessor but at the same time hinted that the decision to send the team to the World Cup would be taken after appropriate consultations.
Previously, he also termed the hybrid model an “injustice” and said he will try to have it reviewed on becoming the PCB chief.
Aug 30 – Pakistan v Nepal, Multan Cricket Stadium, Multan
Aug 31 – Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Sep 2 – Pakistan v India, Pallekele International Cricket Stadium Kandy, Sri Lanka
Sep 3 – Bangladesh v Afghanistan, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Sep 4 – India v Nepal, Pallekele International Cricket stadium Kandy, Sri Lanka
Sep 5 – Afghanistan v Sri Lanka, Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Sep 6 – A1 v B2 (Super-4), Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Sep 9 – B1 v B2 (Super-4), R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium (RPICS), Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sep 10 – A1 v A2 (Super-4), RPICS, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sep 12 – A2 v B1 (Super-4), RPICS, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sep 14 – A1 v B1 (Super-4), RPICS, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sep 15 – A2 v B2, (Super-4), RPICS, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sep 17 – Final – 1 v 2, RPICS, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sep 18 – Reserve day for the final