Cricket - Asia Cup
The last edition of Asia Cup was held in 50-overs format in the UAE in 2018 with India emerging as champions. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Kolkata: Cricket fans will get an opportunity to savour a India-Pakistan T20 match even before the T20 World Cup later this year in Australia with the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) planning to host the Asia Cup in the shortest format sometime in September as a build-up to the event. The marquee contest of the World T20 on October 23, scheduled at Melbourne, is already a sellout.

The window for staging a Asia Cup, which was last held in the UAE in 2018, had been a problem for the continental body due to the Covid-19 pandemic which is followed by the choc-a-bloc international fixtures and the back-to-back T20 World Cups in 2021 and then again this year. However, well-placed sources in the ACC have revealed to Gulf News that the teams are agreeable to play the continental event with Sri Lanka playing hosts.

‘‘As per the ACC decision in October last year, Sri Lanka will host the tournament in 2022 with Pakistan scheduled to host the 2023 edition. Lanka hence is the first choice,’’ sources said though the UAE’s name is also doing the rounds as a back-up venue.

Additional white ball events?

The Asia Cup, meanwhile, could be one of the additional white ball events being planned after India’s tour of England in July and ahead of the World T20 in October-November. Rohit Sharma & Co will be playing one T20 International match against Ireland during their England tour.

A recent media report suggests that after the completion of the series against England, India will travel to West Indies, Zimbabwe for additional white ball events and then participate in the Asia Cup.

The Sri Lanka tour of India, which began with a T20I in Lucknow on Thursday, will end on March 16. The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 will then commence in end-March and it will end in May, following which India will play five-match T20I series against South Africa at home which will end on June 19.

While sources in the BCCI didn’t confirm about the tours to West Indies and Zimbabwe, media reports say that the selection committee has already shortlisted 35 players who will be representing India at the international level in the upcoming games.

“The discussions on bio-bubble breaks have already started. Every player has been communicated about the busy itinerary. They have been given time to think about when they would like to take a break. It’s likely a depleted side will travel to Zimbabwe. Ideally, the Asia Cup will be the right tournament to play the first team, in order to get combinations right before the T20 World Cup,” a BCCI official was quoted as saying.