India will take on arch-rivals Pakistan in their campaign opener of Asia Cup 2023 on September 2 in Kandy, Sri Lanka, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) president & BCCI secretary Jay Shah confirmed on Wednesday while announcing the schedule for the continental tournament.
The six-nation tournament, which will begin on August 30, will be held in Pakistan and Sri Lanka under a hybrid model of hosting games.
As per the schedule announced, Pakistan will take on Nepal in Multan on August 30 while the final will be played on September 17 in Colombo.
The upcoming Asia Cup will be played in 50-over format ahead of the Men’s ODI World Cup, scheduled to be held in India from October 5 to November 19.
Notably, India, Pakistan, defending champions Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Nepal, the winners of ACC Men’s Premier Cup, will compete in a total of 13 ODI matches in the tournament.
“I am happy to announce the schedule for the highly anticipated Men’s ODI #AsiaCup2023, a symbol of unity and togetherness binding diverse nations together! Let’s join hands in the celebration of cricketing excellence and cherish the bonds that connect us all. @ACCMedia1,” wrote Jay Shah on Twitter.
Intrestingly, arch-rivals India and Pakistan have been clubbed together alongside Nepal in Group A while Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are the sides featuring in Group B.
India had last won the tournament when it was held in the ODI format in the UAE in 2018.
Barring Nepal, the Asia Cup will serve as vital preparation for the remaining of the five teams for the upcoming ODI World Cup.
The 2023 edition of Asia Cup will be the 16th edition of the tournament.
The upcoming esition will feature two groups, with two teams from each group qualifying for the Super Four stage and later, the top two teams from the Super Four stage will meet in the final.
After Multan hosts the tournament opener between Pakistan and Nepal, Lahore will host two group stage games — Bangladesh vs Afghanistan and Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan — on September 3 and 5 respectively, as well as one game of the Super four stage.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka’s Kandy will host group matches while Colombo will host five Super fours games and the final.
The schedule also said that irrespective of where teams finish in the first round, Pakistan will remain A1 and India will be A2, while Sri Lanka will be B1 and Bangladesh B2. In case minnows like Nepal and Afghanistan qualify for the Super fours stage of the competition, they will take the slot of the team knocked out from their respective groups.
Asia Cup 2023 schedule:
August 30: Pakistan v Nepal – Multan
August 31: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka – Kandy
September 2: Pakistan v India – Kandy
September 3: Bangladesh v Afghanistan – Lahore
September 4: India v Nepal – Kandy
September 5: Afghanistan v Sri Lanka – Lahore
September 6: A1 v B2 – Lahore
September 9: B1 v B2 – Colombo
September 10: A1 v A2 – Colombo
September 12: A2 v B1 – Colombo
September 14: A1 v B1 – Colombo
September 15: A2 v B2 – Colombo
Final – September 17 – Colombo