Pak, Sri Lanka ATC final from March 6

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2002, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi: Pakistan and Sri Lanka have agreed to play the final of the Asian Test Championship (ATC) from March 6 to 10 in Lahore, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) announced on Tuesday. "The dates of the second Asian championship final were decided after we got the consent of both the boards involved," ACC Secretary Zakir Hussain Syed said. Pakistan's Cricket Board had also proposed a five-match One-day series in addition to the ATC final, but it was turned down by the Sri Lankan Board. The championship, which decides the best Test team in Asia, lost its sheen after India pulled out last September, protesting Pakistan's involvement in Indian- administered Kashmir. The South Asian nuclear rivals last met on cricket fields during the Asia Cup in Dhaka in June two years ago. Their under-19 teams, however, met recently in the league game in the Junior World Cup in New Zealand. Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka thrashed Bangladesh by an innings margin in the Asian championship last year and mutually agreed to abandon the meaningless league game to directly play the final. "We have a disappointing Asian championship because of India's withdrawal, and since the event was a major revenue-earner for us we suffered badly," Syed said. India's withdrawal incurred the ACC a loss of around $ 30 million. "We hope to get a sponsor for the ATC final but it's still much below earnings than the last time." India's withdrawal from the Asian championship will top the agenda when the ACC meets in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates on February 16 and 17, Syed said. "Both Pakistan and India will have to play a leadership role if Asian cricket is to prosper and all our future events depend on their participation," Syed said. India's Sports Ministry maintains it will not revive cricketing ties with Pakistan until the current stand-off between the nuclear rivals is resolved. ACC also plans to host the Limited Over Asia Cup tournament in August to September in Pakistan, but India's continued refusal to play Pakistan is threatening to mar the event. Sri Lanka will arrive on March 1 for the Asian Test Championship and is likely to play a side game before the ATC final. Pakistan won the first Asian championship in 1999, in which India also participated.

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