Asia Cup likely to be moved to UAE: Sources

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India won the 2018 Asia Cup under the captaincy of Rohit Sharma in the UAE.

Mohammad Abdullah, Gulf Today

There can be yet another chance for the cricket lovers to rejoice as Asia Cup is likely to be moved to the UAE, according to reports swirling in the corridors of the sports fraternity.

Asia Cup, which was supposed to be held in Sri Lanka from Aug.27-Sept.15, can be moved to either the UAE or Bangladesh, owing to the chaos in the island nation.

Lanka is in the grip of a financial upheaval, which has sent the economy of the tiny nation topsy-turvy. The Lankan cricket board has expressed its wish to go ahead with the tournament. The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) is wary of prevailing circumstances and wants to move the competition out Lanka.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed and hope that it comes to the UAE. Bangladesh and the UAE are in the fray to host the prestigious tournament.

“But going by the UAE’s excellent record of staging the world-class sporting events, it is more likely to come to the UAE,” said a source close to the development of the matter on the condition of anonymity.

A total of six teams – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and a qualifier — will participate in the tournament.

The Sri Lankan Cricket Board official had met with BCCI and ACC officials recently and pleaded with them to not transfer the tournament as it will cost them a huge loss to the tune of 5-6 million dollars.

On the request of the Sri Lanka cricket board, the dates of the tournament have been tweaked as well. But Lanka have tried their best to persuade the ACC officials of staging a successful Asia Cup despite the economic crisis.

It was supposed to be announced after the final of the IPL 2022 but has been delayed as the decision will be taken only after the Australia series. Australia have already arrived in Lanka.

The tournament was originally slated to be held in August 2020, but was postponed for two years due to the coronavirus, which brought the whole world  to its knees.

The sporting sector was hit badly and all the leagues and tournaments across the globe were either postponed or cancelled to safeguard the health of the players, official and fans.

The UAE was the only country which kept the flame burning and delivered a successful staging of the sports event during that time which added one more feather to its cap.

The turning point was when the MMA fight was transferred from the US to the safe haven to negate the losses could have incurred in case of cancellation. After delivering a successful MMA event, the floodgates were opened for the UAE and an array of sports events were moved to the UAE.

It was followed by the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021, and 2022 editions, Twenty20 World Cup,  2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Asian Boxing Championship to a name a few.

“The state-of-the-art stadiums, security and the UAE’s past record makes it the firm favourite. Yet the final decision is yet to be taken. But we are hopeful of getting the tournament,” added the source.

The 2018 edition of the Asia Cup was also held in the UAE. India defeated Bangladesh in the nail-biting final by two runs to claim the title.

“We have started doing the preparations in anticipation to deliver yet another world class tournament in case it is shifted to the UAE,” he added.

The UAE’s relation with cricket dates back to 1980 when Cricketers Benefit Fund Series (CBFS) matches were played in Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Today, Sharjah stadium holds the record for hosting the most number of one-day international matches.

After that there was no looking back and it became of the most sought after destinations for holding the cricket tournaments. With a large diaspora of the sub-continental population, cricket soon became of the most loved sports of the country.

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