Afghanistan team will start the upcoming Asia Cup cricket tournament with a match against Bangladesh in Lahore. This was stated today in a report served on sports website ESPNcricinfo. However, the final schedule of the tournament is yet to be officially announced by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC). According to published reports, Bangladesh will play their first match against Afghanistan on September 3.
Earlier ACC said that the Asia Cup will start on August 31 and end on September 17. The draft schedule has been brought forward by one day. The tournament will start on August 30 with Pakistan-Nepal match in Multan. The final will be held on September 17 in Colombo. India and Pakistan, two arch-rivals, will meet on September 2 in Kandy, Sri Lanka.
The main host Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) may change the draft schedule before the final announcement by ACC. The Asia Cup will be held in the ‘hybrid model’ proposed by Pakistan approved by the ACC. The event will be held in Pakistan and Sri Lanka with six countries.
A total of 13 matches will be held in the tournament. India and Nepal are in Group ‘A’ along with Pakistan. Group ‘B’ includes Bangladesh, Afghanistan and current champions Sri Lanka. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the Super Four. The top two teams from the Super Four will play in the final.
The ODI World Cup will start on Indian soil from October 5. For this reason, this year’s Asia Cup will be held in ODI format keeping in mind the World Cup. Apart from Nepal, the remaining five teams of the tournament will play in the ODI World Cup.
According to the ‘hybrid model’, all four matches of Pakistan in the group stage were to be played in the city of Lahore. After Zaka Ashraf took charge as the new chairman this month, the new administration of PCB added Multan as the second venue. Therefore, in the draft schedule, the opening match of the tournament will be held in Multan. Three matches of group stage and one match of Super Four will be held in Lahore.
Bangladesh will face Afghanistan on September 3 in Lahore and Sri Lanka and Afghanistan on September 5 at the Gaddafi Stadium. The draft schedule also said that at the end of the first round, Pakistan was ranked A1, India A2, Sri Lanka B1 and Bangladesh B2. If Afghanistan and Nepal qualify for the Super Four, they will take the place of the team eliminated from the group stage (Nepal will take the place of Pakistan or India from Group ‘A’ and Afghanistan will take the place of Bangladesh or Sri Lanka in Group ‘B’).
In the draft schedule, a Super Four match will be held on September 6 between A1 and B2 on Pakistani soil. If Pakistan and India make it to the Super Four, they will meet in Kandy on September 10. Three matches of the Super Four will be held at Dambulla, another venue in Sri Lanka.