The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) is reconsidering its decision and contemplating hosting the matches in Colombo instead of Hambantota. The temporary halt to the relocation plan aims to determine if the original schedule, which involved matches in Colombo, can still proceed.
Despite concerns about the heavy rain threat due to prevailing weather patterns, ACC and Sri Lanka Cricket are exploring the possibility of conducting the championship's Colombo leg as initially planned. Recent reports indicate that the weather situation and forecasts are showing signs of improvement.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Indian team arrived in Colombo and experienced bright and sunny weather upon checking into the Taj Samudra Hotel. While they await official confirmation regarding the schedule, the team management assumes that the matches will take place in the capital city. A definitive decision is expected within the next two days, during which no scheduled practice sessions are planned for the team.
Colombo is scheduled to host six games, including the final on September 17. The first Super 4 game is set for September 9, followed by an India-Pakistan clash on September 10. Three more games are planned for September 12, 14, and 15 before the final showdown.
This decision comes amid a strong response from Jay Shah, the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and president of ACC, as well as Najam Sethi, the former President of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), who has criticized Shah and ACC regarding the Asia Cup schedule.
In a statement, Shah emphasized that the decision-making process prioritized player well-being and the interests of the sport. The aim was to strike a balance that would ensure a competitive and successful tournament while maintaining the health and preparedness of the participating teams for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. However, Shah did not address the shift to Hambantota.
Shah's statement followed continued criticism from Sethi, who proposed playing five matches in Pakistan and eight in the UAE. BCCI rejected this proposal and hinted at giving the Asia Cup hosting rights to Sri Lanka if they did not agree. Sethi questioned why these options were rejected and why Sri Lanka was chosen against reason and logic.
Shah argued that a move to the UAE was not in the players' best interest before the World Cup. He highlighted the differences between a T20 tournament, like the 2022 Asia Cup held in the UAE, and a 100-over One-day format. ACC members received feedback from their high-performance teams expressing concerns about playing One-day matches in the UAE in September. Such a schedule could have resulted in player fatigue and an increased risk of injuries right before the crucial ICC Cricket World Cup.