Concerns rise as ACC revises Asia Cup schedule

In an unprecedented move, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) on Tuesday tweaked its already announced schedule of the ongoing Asia Cup — apparently to please India, the host of the tournament in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The ACC has released the schedule of the Super-4 stage as all four teams are now finalised but before their positions in their respective groups are decided.

According to the Super 4 schedule announced following Hong Kong’s marginal loss, India will now play all the matches in Dubai regardless of the other teams’ position in their respective groups.

Not only have India been given an A1 status before their decider match against Pakistan, but the ACC has also assumed that Afghanistan and Bangladesh will be B1 and B2, respectively. However, the latter two are yet to play each other in their group match after both won against Sri Lanka.

According to the Super 4 schedule, India and Pakistan will play Bangladesh and Afghanistan, respectively, on Friday to kick off the super4 stage. Initially, however, it was A1 vs B2 and A2 vs B1 in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, respectively.

This means Bangladesh, who play Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, would be travelling to Dubai to face off India on Friday.

Pakistan, on the other hand, would fly to Abu Dhabi on Thursday to play Afghanistan the next day, return to Dubai on Saturday to play India the next day, and travel back to Abu Dhabi to play Bangladesh on Wednesday. If they qualify for final, they would have to fly back to Dubai on Thursday to participate in the final on Friday.

The bottom of the official tournament fixture schedule, according to a report in The National newspaper of the UAE, reads: “Note: On qualifying for Super 4, the host board [India] will play as Group A – Qualifier 1.”

Even if that is to be considered, how can position in group B be decided before Afghanistan plays Bangladesh?

It is noteworthy that an initial schedule, which was also available on the official website of the International Cricket Council (ICC), mentions the group winners and group runner-ups in the Super-4 stage.

Pakistan’s captain Sarfraz Ahmed has also questioned the scheduling of the tournament. “Travelling is an issue, so if you travel for [90 minutes] during the matches, then it’s tough,” he said ahead of the game against India.

“In this weather, it’s tough, and then after one day, you play another game. I think it should be even for all the teams whether it is India or Pakistan.

“If there are matches in Abu Dhabi, then every team has to play there. I don’t know what the Asian Cricket Council has done about it,” he had said.

It is now up to the ACC to clarify the position on the scheduling of the tournament. (Courtesy Geo TV)