“Every effort was made to host the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka and the decision to shift the venue to the UAE was taken after much deliberation,” Jay Shah, the Asian Cricket Council President, was quoted as saying in a press release on Wednesday. “The UAE will be the new venue while Sri Lanka will continue to retain hosting rights.”
Sri Lanka is going through one of its worst crisis with supplies of food and fuel drying up. The country has still been able to host bilateral cricket, with Australia and Pakistan making the trip over, but with the Asia Cup being a multi-team tournament, the challenges of hosting it in the midst of economic turmoil were a touch too much.
“Hosting two teams is not the same as hosting ten teams,” SLC chief executive officer Ashley de Silva told ESPNcricinfo on ten days ago. “You have to provide ten buses with fuel for all of them. You have to give every team a luggage van with fuel, and transport for the managers. You also have to give the sponsors transport and ensure that they are getting the mileage that they want from their sponsorship. The fuel for the generators to run the floodlights will also have to be found.”
The ACC had limited options regarding back-up venues considering June through September is monsoon season over most of the Indian subcontinent. In terms of the infrastructure and travel, the UAE has proved to be a successful venue, but late August and early September generally witness extreme temperatures of over 40°C with humidity also expected to be a factor.
The Asia Cup, last held in 2018, will be played in T20 format this time and serve as preparation for the World Cup in October. It will start with a qualifying round of matches between UAE, Kuwait, Singapore and Hong Kong. The winner will go on to the main tournament and play Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.