(PKONWEB) — Cricket’s Asia Cup has been moved from India to the UAE over Pakistan’s refusal to cross the border, as relations simmer between the arch rivals, the Asian Cricket Council said Tuesday.
The multi-million dollar biennial cricketing event was due to be held in India in September, sparking protests from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) who called for the event to be relocated.
“This year’s Asia Cup is moved out of India to UAE and will be held from September 13-28,” Sultan Rana, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) development and event manager, told AFP.
Rana said six Asian teams will compete in the 50-over Asia Cup.
“India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the five top teams while, there will be a qualifying round to select the sixth team,” said Rana, a former Pakistan first class player.
India suspended bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan after the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based across the border– meaning Pakistan. The unilateral boycott continues much to the dismay of cricket lovers on both sides of the tense border.
India has though continued to square off with Pakistan in international events like the 2016 Asia Cup in Bangladesh, the World Twenty20 at home and the 2017 Champions Trophy in England, but remains uncomfortable in playing cricket in Pakistan.
India-Pakistan matches have traditionally drawn one of the largest crowds at stadiums as well as millions of viewers on the screen and the internet.
“Demand for the India-Pakistan match on Sunday was so great that the ground could have sold out its 25,000 capacity eight times over,” reported the New York Times on the two neighbors’ cricketing rivalry during a match in June 2017 in Birmingham, England where one in five people is British Indian or British Pakistani.
The Asia Cup remains marred by strained Indo-Pak relations since its inception when the UAE hosted it in 1984.
Two years later, India pulled out of the event in Sri Lanka, while Pakistan refused to send its team to India when it hosted the cup in 1991.
With Pakistan and India unable to host, Bangladesh held three straight Asian Cups from 2012 to 2016.
Meanwhile, the ACC Emerging Asia Cup was also jeopardized earlier this month when India refused to send their team to Pakistan to compete.
“Emerging Cup will now be hosted jointly by Pakistan and Sri Lanka in December this year,” said Rana.
India will play its Emerging Cup matches in Sri Lanka.