Dubai: There is good news for cricket fans in the UAE as they are likely to witness an India-Pakistan cricket clash after a gap of 12 years. A meeting of the Executive Board of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), held in Kuala Lumpur, has decided that the Asia Cup 2018 will be held in Abu Dhabi and Dubai between September 13 and 28. India and Pakistan last played each other in the UAE during the inauguration of the Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Cricket Stadium in 2006 and was watched by a packed stadium. The two-match one-day series for DLF Cup was held to help the 2005 Kashmir earthquake victims.
India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the winner of the Asia Cup qualifier will compete in 2018 Asia Cup, which will be held in a 50-overs format this time. The qualifier will be determined via a play-off between the UAE, Hong Kong, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia and Oman.
The ACC Board also agreed that some matches of Emerging Teams Asia Cup will be played in Pakistan and the majority of the tournament will be hosted by Sri Lanka. The modalities of this tournament to be held in two countries will be announced later.
The biennial Asia Cup tournament was due to be held in India in September, but has been moved to the UAE as Pakistan had refused to play in India following the simmering cross-border conflict between the two nations.
Sultan Rana, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) development and event manager, announced after the Kuala Lumpur meeting: “This year’s Asia Cup is moved out of India to UAE and will be held from September 13 to 28.”
Since 2008, following the terror attacks in Mumbai, India had suspended bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan. Though the two countries do not play in any bilateral series, they did clash in the ICC tournaments a number of times. India met Pakistan in the 2016 Asia Cup in Bangladesh, the World Twenty20 at home and the 2017 Champions Trophy in England in which Pakistan beat India to emerge as the champions.
The Asia Cup had always been hit due to the unstable political relationships between India and Pakistan since the tournament started in 1984. Incidentally, it was the Sharjah Cricket Stadium that hosted the first Asia Cup in 1984 and hence the September event will be a return of the event to its country of origin.
In 1986, when Sri Lanka hosted the Asia Cup, India pulled out of the event. Similarly, when India hosted the event in 1991, Pakistan refused to play in India. Three Asia Cups were held in Bangladesh as both India and Pakistan were unable to host it.