India and Pakistan will face off one more time after the two teams were placed in the same group of the Asia Cup 2023 which takes place in September later this year, Asia Cricket Council president Jay Shah announced on Thursday. India and Pakistan have been joined by defending champions Sri Lanka in one group, followed by Bangladesh, Afghanistan and a qualifying team in the other. The Asia Cup 2023, will be played in the 50-over format as part of a build-up to the World Cup.
A total of 13 matches will be played barring the qualifiers. These include six league matches six Super 4 games, with the two top teams headlining the final. However, just which country hosts the tournament remains to be seen after the ACC promised to appeal to the ICC to take the competition out of Pakistan, its original host nation.
“Presenting the @ACCMedia1 pathway structure & cricket calendars for 2023 & 2024! This signals our unparalleled efforts & passion to take this game to new heights. With cricketers across countries gearing up for spectacular performances, it promises to be a good time for cricket,” tweeted Shah.
India and Pakistan put on back-to-back classic matches when they faced off in the 20-over Asia Cup last year. In the league stage, India beat Pakistan by five wickets in a last-over thriller chasing down 148 with Hardik Pandya hitting the winning runs before Babar Azam and Co. pulled one back in the Super 4. India eventually failed to qualify for Super 4 following a loss to Sri Lanka who later went on to win the cup defeating Pakistan in the final.
Then again, there is no clarity over the schedule or the venue. Pakistan originally bagged the rights to hosting this year’s Asia Cup but BCCI are not keen to travel to the country to play due to the political tensions existing between the two countries. Former PCB chairman Ramiz Raja had threatened a boycott of the 50-over World Cup in response to BCCI’s stance, but with Najam Sethi taking over as the new chief, things might change.
Besides the Asia Cup, a total of 145 ODI and T20I matches will be played during the two-year cycle (between 2023-2024) announced by ACC. There will be 75 games in 2023 and 70 games in 2024. The schedule starts with the Men’s Challengers Cup, which will feature 10 teams battling for supremacy, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Maldives, Thailand and Iran while the remaining two teams are yet to be announced. In March, a Men’s Under-16 Regional tournament will be held. The tournament will feature eight teams, region-wise.