Asia Cup Matches in Colombo Under Threat
The Asia Cup matches in Colombo are facing a potential relocation as heavy rains are predicted to persist in the region over the coming weeks. The weather forecast for the next week is grim, prompting discussions within the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) about moving the matches to a different venue.
Dambulla and Pallekele have emerged as the top contenders to host the Super 4 stage of this multi-nation cricket tournament. A senior official from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed this development, stating, “Yes, the discussions are underway, and it’s highly likely that the matches will be relocated from Colombo due to the unfavorable weather forecast.”
Colombo’s Weather Woes
Originally scheduled to host the Super 4 matches starting from September 9, Colombo has experienced heavy rainfall in recent days. The forecast for the upcoming week does not bode well either, with a high likelihood of further rain. This recent downpour has already disrupted a high-profile India-Pakistan clash in Pallekele on September 2.
“How disappointing! Rain mars the greatest contest in cricket. But this was forecast. As PCB Chair, I urged the ACC to play in UAE but poor excuses were made to accommodate Sri Lanka. Too hot in Dubai, they said. But it was just as hot when the Asia Cup was last played there in September 2022 or when the IPL was held there in April 2014 and September 2020. Politics over sport. Unforgivable!”
Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief, Najam Sethi, expressed his disappointment on social media, taking a dig at the ACC for not heeding earlier weather warnings. He suggested that the tournament should have been held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) instead of Sri Lanka due to the consistent hot weather in Dubai, where previous Asia Cups and IPL matches were successfully hosted.
Sethi also shared a screenshot of a weather forecast dominated by rain, emphasizing the challenges posed by the inclement weather.
Following the ongoing Bangladesh vs. Afghanistan match, two more Asia Cup games, including the first Super 4 stage encounter, are scheduled to be played in Lahore before the action shifts entirely to Sri Lanka. While Pakistan initially hosted this edition of the Asia Cup, India’s refusal to play in Pakistan resulted in a hybrid hosting model.
During the discussions about the second venue alongside Pakistan, Dubai was considered due to its previous Asia Cup hosting experience. However, it wasn’t finalized due to concerns about the extreme heat in the region.
As the threat of rain looms over India’s second match against Nepal in Pallekele on September 4, ACC faces a challenging decision. Although a final verdict is yet to be reached, the chances of Colombo hosting the crucial stages of the tournament, including the final, appear increasingly slim.
The Asia Cup 2023 faces a significant challenge with persistent heavy rains in Colombo. The ACC is actively considering relocating matches to alternative venues, with Dambulla and Pallekele emerging as strong contenders. The unpredictable weather has disrupted high-profile matches, and cricket enthusiasts eagerly await ACC’s decision on the fate of this prestigious tournament.