Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will face off in the first game of the 2018 Asia Cup on September 15, it was confirmed on Tuesday (July 24), Times of India affirms.
The tournament, which will be staged in the United Arab Emirates, sees Afghanistan paired with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in one group. Defending champions India will play the winner of the Asia Cup qualifiers on September 18,before taking on arch-rivals Pakistan the very next day with these three teams getting paired in the other group.
The two teams that finish at the bottom of their respective groups will be eliminated with the rest playing against each other once in the Super 4 stage. The two teams that finish at the top of the table after the conclusion of the Super 4 stage will meet in the final in Dubai on September 28.
As per the new guidelines, the tournament will be played in the ODI format with the 50-over World Cup scheduled to be held next year. The previous tournament in Bangladesh in 2016 was played in the T20 format ahead of the World T20.
The qualifier tournament featuring Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Singapore and UAE will be held in India in September, with the winner joining the rest of the five teams in the main draw.
India-Pakistan Asia Cup match on September 19
India and Pakistan, the 2017 Champions Trophy finalists, are set to meet for the first time since that lopsided contest, with the announcement of the Asia Cup schedule confirming the date and venue of the clash. The two play each other on September 19 in Dubai, the first time they will face off in the UAE since 2006. It will also mark the first time the arch-rivals do battle in Dubai; they have previously played 24 ODIs in Sharjah and two in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan have been dominant in the UAE, winning 19 of the contests.
Six teams will take part in the Asia Cup, with the group stage divided into two groups for the first time. Pakistan and India have been pooled with one other team to be determined by a qualifying tournament that takes place from August 29 to September 6. The qualifying tournament features six teams: Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman and UAE.
The other group comprises Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The six teams will then be cut down to four after the first round, with each of them playing the other in a round robin format. The top two will go through to the final, to be held on September 28.
The tournament will also revert to its traditional ODI format, which was last held in 2014 in Bangladesh, with Sri Lanka emerging victors. The 2016 edition was turned into a T20I tournament, serving as preparation for the World T20 that was to be held a month later. India were champions in 2016.
This year’s tournament was originally scheduled to be held in India, but political differences with Pakistan forced it to be rescheduled to the UAE. The Emirates Cricket Board will rent out the stadiums with India to serve as the “official” hosts. All matches will be played in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with the latter to serve as the venue for the final.