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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Asia Cup fixture in Dubai in September marks return of India-Pakistan action in UAE after 12 years

Fixtures for continental tournament, to be held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, released as arch-rivals drawn in same group

India captain Virat  Kohli, in blue, and Pakistan counterpart Sarfraz Ahmed will take each other on in Dubai. Reuters
India captain Virat  Kohli, in blue, and Pakistan counterpart Sarfraz Ahmed will take each other on in Dubai. Reuters

India and Pakistan will face off in Dubai in September after drawing the same group for this year's Asia Cup, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced.

Asia's arch-rivals will meet in a cricket match on UAE soil for the first since 2006 when they locked horns in a two-match one-day international series held in Abu Dhabi.

That series, which ended in a 1-1 draw, served to raise relief funds for earthquake victims in the disputed territory of Kashmir. It also marked the first occasion the two teams played each other in UAE fixtures outside Sharjah.

Twelve years hence, they will meet for the first time in Dubai on September 19 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Since they first clashed in Sharjah in 1984, India and Pakistan have been involved in 26 ODIs in the UAE. Pakistan won 19 of those games and India the remaining seven. In all, they have played 129 ODIs against each other, with Pakistan winning 73 times, India winning 52 times, and four games ending in a 'no-result'.

India had suspended bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai attacks for which the Indian government held Pakistan-backed terrorists responsible. However, the two teams continue to play each other in international tournaments, including the Champions Trophy final in England last year.

This year's Asia Cup was originally set to be held in India but was shifted to the UAE because of strained relations between New Delhi and Islamabad.

India will fly in to the Emirates presumably directly from England, where they are currently preparing for a five-Test series starting at Edgbaston next Wednesday. The final Test, at The Oval in London, is expected to end on September 11. This gives them just a one-week breather before they kick off their Asia Cup campaign.

Virat Kohli's men have been away from their country since the last week of June when they arrived in Ireland to play a two-match Twenty20 series. It was followed shortly thereafter by a three-match T20 series in England against the home team and a three-game ODI series versus the same side.

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The biennial tournament will begin on September 15 with Sri Lanka taking on Bangladesh in the opener, the ICC said. The tournament, also featuring Afghanistan as their other confirmed participants, reverts to its traditional 50-overs format after opting in 2016 for a Twenty20 competition, which India won.

Meanwhile, the UAE, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman and Singapore will be involved in a qualification tournament, scheduled to be held in Malaysia from August 29 to September 6. The winner of this competition will complete the six-team line-up for the continental cup.

Group A consists of India, Pakistan and the qualifier, while Group B comprises Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the Super 4, and top two teams from this grouping will then play the final on September 28.

Of the 13 matches, Dubai will host eight games – including the final – and the remaining fixtures will be held at Abu Dhabi's Zayed Cricket Stadium.