Former Indian opener Virender Sehwag has slammed the 2018 Asia Cup schedule where India has been scheduled to play against arch-rival Pakistan on Septemeber 19, the day after opening their campaign against a yet-to-be-confirmed qualifier.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Tuesday released the schedule for the biennial tournament set to take place in the UAE from 15 September, sees Bangladesh and Sri Lanka face each other in the opening game in Dubai. READ | Asia Cup 2018 Full Schedule
India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are all confirmed participants, with the remaining spot still up for grabs almost UAE, Singapore, Oman, Nepal, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
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 two teams will then play the final on 28 September in Dubai.
“I am really shocked to see the scheduling because which country plays back-to-back cricket matches these days? There was a gap of two days in between the T20 matches in England and here you are playing ODIs under hot Dubai weather and that too without a break. So, I don’t think this is a correct scheduling,” Sehwag said while speaking to IndiaTV.
Sehwag said that playing back-to-back cricket matches could hamper India’s chances against their Asian neighbour which could result in some problems as Indians are very passionate whenever the national side plays against Pakistan.
“When Team India will play the Asia Cup in Dubai in September, there will be too much heat and it will hamper the players’ recovery process. Pakistan will be in a good shape whereas the Indian players will be tired. And if we end up losing the match, then there might be a problem as we all are very passionate whenever we play against Pakistan. We always want India to win against Pakistan but if the Indian players are tired then Pakistan will definitely have the advantage,” he added.
The former Indian cricketer further said that instead of reducing the ongoing four-day practice game against Essex in England, BCCI should have cancelled the qualifier game. The heatwave sweeping across England forced India to reduce the four-dayer against Essex to a three-day contest.
“There shouldn’t be any back-to-back games. If the BCCI had to cancel anything then it should have been the qualifier game in the Asia Cup rather than reducing the four-day practice match against Essex to three days,” he said.
The 39-year-old further went on to say that India shouldn’t have played the Asia Cup tournament if there was a problem with the scheduling.
“Why there’s such hue and cry over playing the Asia Cup? Don’t play the Asia Cup. Prepare the team for the home series or the away series. It’s really difficult to play back-to-back games,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, a CricketNext report indicates that the BCCI is also unhappy about having to play against a qualifier just one day before the derby against neighbours Pakistan.
“The scheduling is mindless. There appears to be zero application of mind,” a senior BCCI official said according to the CricketNext report.
“How can you accept a scenario where India plays a game today and tomorrow it will face its arch-rival Pakistan who will have a two-day period of rest? This is unacceptable and has to be revisited. Maybe for the organisers it is just a money-spinning game but for us it is important that there be equity in scheduling,” the official added.
Overall, India and Pakistan have played 12 games against each other in the Asia Cup tournament (11 ODI and 1 T20I), with India emerging victorious on five occasions, Pakistan on six and one match ending without any result. The 2018 edition of the tournament will be played in 50-overs format unlike the 2016 event which was played in the T20 format as it preceded the 2016 World T20.
The final of the 2016 Asia Cup was won by India who defeated Bangladesh by eight wickets at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium situated. It was for the sixth time that India won the Asia Cup title.
India and Pakistan, the two Asian giants, last time clashed with each other at the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 when the Men in Green defeated Team India by 180 runs at The Oval on June 18.