B~~lore, Chennai to host Afro-Asian Cup from June 6

Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Top cricketers from the four Asian countries will get together to fight it out against the best oAfrica has to offer in a three-match day-night ODI series in the second Afro-Asia Cup to be held in Bangalore and Chennai from June six, BCCI president announced here on Wednesday.

The series will be preceded by two Twenty20 matches, one between the women's teams of the two continents and the other between the men's teams, in Bangalore on June 5.

Two separate Asia teams will be selected for the ODIs and the Twenty20 games. The Asia team for the tournament and the men's Twenty20 game will be selected on May 11 in Dhaka.

In an effort to further boost the muscle power of Asian giants in World Cricket, Mr Pawar today announced, ''We are delighted that India should play host to this event. The match-up of the best players of Asia against the best of Africa is a proven formula for success.''

Wearing a different hat as the chairman of the Afro-Asian Cricket Co-operation, Mr Pawar said, ''In times to come a majority of the teams in world cricket will be from Asia and Africa,'' adding ''Cricket will reach even greater heights with more such events.''

Asked by mediapersons whether seniors or juniors would be given more preference for the Afro-Asia Cup, an aggravated Pawar said, ''the best available team will be selected."

"Every country will get some representation. It is up to the selectors of the four Asian nations.'' Asia's selection will be done by a panel consisting of Chetan Chauhan (India), Majid Khan (Pakistan), Lalith Kaluperama (Sri Lanka) and ASM Farooque (Bangladesh).

Syed Ashraful Huq, chief executive of the Asian Cricket Council said, ''To have the best cricketers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh come together in one team to represent the spirit of Asian fraternity and co-operation is hugely significant in itself.

We can expect the Afro-Asia cricket at Bangalore and Chennai to be intensely competitive.''

Throughout the press briefing, the BCCI boss skirted thorny issues from the media about the endorsements issue and Zee's bid to launch the Indian Cricket League, restricting it to only Afro-Asia Cup related questions.

Asked whether it was the right time to host the Afro-Asia Cup just after the Indian team returns from Bangladesh and if a three match series would suffice, Mr Pawar justified by saying, ''Its a good beginnig and we would like to continue it every year."

''The idea is to support new-comers to improve the quality of cricket and develop the game in the sub-continent and African countries.'' The three ODIs have been accorded ODI status by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Conceived as a fund-raiser for the African Cricket Association and Asian Cricket Council, the inaugural edition of the Cup in South Africa in 2005 ended 1-1.

Mr Pawar said the event is unique as 10 per cent of the net proceeds will be donated to 'Sightsavers International', a charity organisation specialising in eradication of blindness. Seventy per cent of the total proceeds will go to the host country's cricket development body, in this case, the BCCI.

Asked whether the Board would like to continue with Ravi Shastri as the cricket manager even beyond the Bangladesh tour, BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla said, ''he has been roped in for that series only because he has some media commitments and he does not have enough time.''

Nimbus will be the commercial partners for the Afro-Asia Cup and are responsible for all television and on-field marketing.

The prize money for this year's Cup is US$100,000 and the winners will pocket US$25,000 while the participating players will receive US$5,000 for each match.


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