After weeks of suspense over whether the Indian cricket team will or won't participate in the Asia Cup 2020, the chief of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and former India captain Sourav Ganguly announced that the Men in Blue will indeed be part of the event, whose venue has been shifted from Pakistan to Dubai, UAE.
"Asia Cup will be held in Dubai and both India and Pakistan will play," Ganguly told mediapersons in an interaction ahead of leaving for a meeting of Asian Cricket Council, taking place in the same city, Dubai.
This year's Asia Cup won't be in the 50-over format but the T20 one in order to allow participating teams to prepare for the upcoming World T20 in Australia later this year. This is the second time that the format of this tournament has been changed for this reason. In 2016 also, the Asia Cup was played in the shortest format of the game.
The last edition of Asia Cup was also held in UAE and India emerged as the winners after defeating Bangladesh in a final that went down to the last ball of the match. This year's Asia Cup was scheduled to take place in Pakistan. However, due to the very tense relations between India and Pakistan at the political level, India's participation was under serious doubt.
Need for India
Eventually, it seems, everyone concerned realised that Asia Cup without the Indian team would turn into a very drab affair and would suffer enormously in terms of revenue generation. Hence, the stakeholders have seemingly agreed to shift the venue and ensure the participation of Asia's strongest team, both financially and in cricket terms.
PCB's hopes dashed
The shifting of Asia Cup comes as a rude awakening for Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Having successfully hosted both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in recent times, albeit with incredible levels of high security and with some key players of both teams refusing to come, the board thought it is now a normal place to play cricket in.
PCB chief Ehsan Mani even went to the extent of saying that Pakistan is now a safer place than India for playing cricket, citing the disturbances in the latter country due to protests over Citizenship Amendment Act. However, that was wishful, if not delusional, thinking on his part. Besides, even if safety concerns are put aside, the strained nature of Indo-Pakistan relations would not have allowed BCCI to send its team to Pakistan.
Getting the Asia Cup shifted out of Pakistan can be seen as a bit of a victory for the new BCCI administration led by Sourav Ganguly. This would cheer up the large number of his fans even more.