ACC confident Pakistan will come
Asia Cup cricket will go ahead if the holders decide otherwiseStaff Correspondent
The forthcoming Asia Cup will go ahead in Bangladesh even if one team do not come, the chief executive officer of the Asian Cricket Council Syed Ashraful Huq insisted in Dhaka on Thursday.
The ACC released the fixtures of the tournament at a press conference in the afternoon with defending champions Pakistan taking on Sri Lanka in the opening match at Fatullah on February 25.
Pakistan’s participation, however, is subject to the security clearance from its government, Ashraful said, amid growing speculation that the holders may skip the tournament in the wake of recent political turmoil.
‘Obviously every country’s participation is subject to security clearance,’ Ashraful said at the press conference. ‘When the Bangladesh team go abroad we need a government clearance and that goes for every team.
‘Every country requires it, especially in the sub-continent. A Pakistani security official is expected to come on January 18 and there is a security meeting of the ICC on the 20th.
‘The Pakistani official will attend the security meeting and before that he will see the present condition of Bangladesh. I am sure he will give a clean report.
‘The tournament will go on even if any team decide not to participate. There are at least two instances that all teams did not play. But I am sure this time all teams will play.
Ashraful was referring to India’s decision of skipping the tournament in 1986 because of the country’s strained political relationship with Sri Lanka and Pakistan’s withdrawal from the 1990-1991 Asia Cup in India.
A similar situation is unlikely this time, Ashraful said adding that the Pakistan team have provisionally booked their flight on February 22 as they want to practise on Feb 23 and 24.
The ACC chief executive claimed that he has received an assurance of full co-operation from the country’s leading opposition, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, for the tournament.
‘Before coming here, I had a discussion with the BNP leaders who had assured me that they will fully co-operate not only in holding the Asia Cup in Bangladesh but also the Sri Lanka series and the ICC World Twenty20,’ he said.
‘The party spokesman officially confirmed it to me,’ Ashraful said refusing to disclose the identity of the spokesperson. ‘He is an authorised person but I cannot disclose his name. Those who believe that the Asia Cup will be shifted elsewhere are living in a fool’s paradise,’ said the ACC chief executive.
Ashraful revealed that the tournament will be held in two venues with Fatullah hosting the first five matches before it returns to the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, where six matches will be held including the final.
‘We don’t have any reserve day because we need to finish the tournament in a certain period of time,’ he said.
The tournament offers an overall prize money of $260,000 with the champions bagging $60,000. The runners-up will be awarded $30,000 while the winners of each group match will get $10,000. The man of each match and man of the final will receive $5000 and $7,500 respectively. There is $12,500 prize money reserved for the player of the tournament.
Syed Ashraful Huq (C), the CEO of the Asian Cricket Council, speaks at a press conference on Thursday. — New Age photo
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