India wants Asia Cup in Pakistan to be put off

Published: Sunday, December 4, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Chennai:India's new cricket regime may ask Pakistan to postpone next year's Asia Cup limited-overs tournament to give players respite from the gruelling non-stop schedule.

The six-nation tournament featuring India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates and Oman is to be organised by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) in Pakistan from February 16-28 next year.

The event is sandwiched between India's bilateral Test tour of Pakistan in January-February and England's tour of India starting in the last week of February.

The newly-elected office-bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), headed by political heavyweight Sharad Pawar, are worried the Indian players will not get a break between the two series.

"India play three Tests and five One-dayers in Pakistan and another three Tests and seven one-dayers at home against England, so another One-day series is not be a good idea," a BCCI source told AFP Sunday.

"If hosts Pakistan agree, we will want the Asia Cup to be held at a later date."

The biennial Asia Cup was planned by Asian Cricket Council chief Jagmohan Dalmiya, who stepped down as its president on Saturday following his faction's defeat in last week's BCCI elections.

Since India's term to head the ACC lasts until June, Pawar is likely to take over as president, making it easier for the BCCI to push through the postponement of the Asia Cup.

The Indian team has been on the road since August, playing in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe before returning home for 12 One-dayers against Sri Lanka and South Africa in November.

Rahul Dravid's men will complete a three-Test series against Sri Lanka on December 22, tour Pakistan from January 1-February 28, play England at home from March 8-April 28 and then tour the West Indies in May-June.

The postponement of the Asia Cup will be a blow for its TV rights holder, ESPN-Star Sports network, which last week lost out on the India-Sri Lanka Test series to rival Zee Network.

The pan-Asian ESPN-Star Sports, jointly owned by Disney and News Corp, is involved in a bitter struggle with Zee for control of the lucrative Indian market.

The BCCI is expected to award satellite TV rights for home matches until 2009 by the end of the year.

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