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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

UAE to host 2018 Asia Cup over India-Pakistan cricket row

The Emirates step in to hold the biennial tournament, which will take place in September

Pakistan and India faced each other in the ICC Champions Trophy final in June 2017 with Pakistan emerging victorious. Alastair Grant / AP Photo
Pakistan and India faced each other in the ICC Champions Trophy final in June 2017 with Pakistan emerging victorious. Alastair Grant / AP Photo

The Asian Cricket Council announced on Tuesday that the 2018 Asia Cup has been moved to the UAE from India due to Pakistan's refusal to cross the border.

The biennial event was due to be held in India in September, sparking protests from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) who called for the event to be relocated.

"This year's Asia Cup is moved out of India to UAE and will be held from September 13-28," Sultan Rana, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) development and event manager, told AFP.

"The ACC deliberated on the matter and decided that this was the best way forward," Asian Cricket Council and PCB chairman Najam Sethi told ESPNcricinfo.

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India has suspended bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan since the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based across the border.

However India has continued to square off with Pakistan in international events like the 2016 Asia Cup in Bangladesh, the World Twenty20 at home and the 2017 Champions Trophy in England.

The Asia Cup has been marred by strained Indo-Pak relations since its inception when the UAE hosted it in 1984.

Two years later, India pulled out of the event in Sri Lanka, while Pakistan refused to send its team to India when it hosted the cup in 1991.

With Pakistan and India unable to host, Bangladesh held three straight Asian Cups from 2012 to 2016.

Rana said six Asian teams will compete in the 50-over Asia Cup.

"India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the five top teams while, there will be a qualifying round to select the sixth team," said Rana, a former Pakistan first class player.

Meanwhile, the ACC Emerging Asia Cup was also jeopardised earlier this month when India refused to send their team to Pakistan to compete.

"Emerging Cup will now be hosted jointly by Pakistan and Sri Lanka in December this year," said Rana.

India will play its Emerging Cup matches in Sri Lanka.

The UAE has in recent times established itself as a central hub for international cricket. Pakistan have been playing their home series in the Emirates since 2009, while the Pakistan Super League (PSL), Pakistan's Twenty20 tournament, has been primarily hosted in the UAE since its launch three years ago.

The UAE hosted the first part of the 2014 Indian Premier League, due to India's impending general election, and has held numerous age-group international tournaments, while the headquarters of the International Cricket Council are in Dubai.