Pakistan to host Asia Cup in February

Published: Thursday, May 12, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Pakistan will host the Asia Cup one-day tournament in February next year and the home side will be pitted against their arch-rivals in the same group, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) said.

Pakistan, who had never hosted the biennial event due to its sporting deadlock with India, will stage the tournament from February 14-26, a council official said on Wednesday.

"The full programme would be announced shortly but the meeting of the ACC has finalised the dates, venues and the groups of the ninth eidtion of the Asia Cup," ACC chief executive Ashraful Haq told AFP.

"Since the normalisation of the Indo-Pak relations last year, the Asian cricket is flourishing and the better relations augurs well for Asian cricket," he said.

The two-day executive board meeting is being attended by representatives from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Nepal.

Bangladesh's representative could not attend the meeting which ends on Thursday.

Joining Pakistan and India in Group A will be Oman, the runners-up of the ACC Trophy last year.

Sri Lanka, winners of the event they hosted last year, Bangladesh and ACC trophy winners the UAE are placed in Group A.

The first round matches will be played in Rawalpindi and Karachi while the second round and the final will be played in Lahore.

"The format of the Asia Cup is also changed a little bit as the four teams who qualify for the second round will carry the points they score in the first phase," said Haq.

The top two teams from the second phase will qualify for the February 26 final.

"India is scheduled to tour Pakistan in January-February next year so they will stay after the bilateral series and would feature in the Asia Cup," he said.

India, who won the inaugural Asia Cup held in Sharjah in 1983, has won the event four times, Sri Lanka three times and Pakistan has won once.

"The ACC has also decided that the Asian Test championship would be revived in 2007 and would last for 30 days," said Haq.

All four Asian Test playing countries -- India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- took part in the two Asian Test championships held in 1998-99 and in 2001-02.

The event could not be held subsequently due to the hectic international schedule.

"After the 2006 Asia Cup, the next two Asia Cups will be held in 2008 and 2010 while Asian Test championships will also be held in 2009 and 2011 for which we would float the television rights soon," said Haq.

Pakistan won the first Asian Test championship and Sri Lanka the second.

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