Bangladesh to remain Asia Cup host
The Asian Cricket Council has decided that Bangladesh will remain the host of the Asia Cup 2013-14. The other big news to emerge from the ACC's meeting in Colombo is that Afghanistan will be the fifth team in the competition. A total of 11 matches will be played in the tournament with the opening game expected to be on February 25 and the final on March 8, 2014.
"As of now, the decision has been made that Bangladesh will retain hosting rights of the Asia Cup," BCB's acting CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury said. "We had a good meeting with ACC board members, and they have been convinced that we can host the tournament. Afghanistan has also been added to the tournament, making it a five-team event and the number of matches has gone up to eleven."
Bangladesh's status as a host nation was in doubt following recent political turmoil. In December, the West Indies Under-19s team had pulled out of their tour after an explosion near the team hotel. Apart from the Asia Cup, Bangladesh are scheduled to host Sri Lanka for a bilateral series and will also stage the World Twenty20 from March 16.
Syed Ashraful Huq, the chief executive of the ACC, said the members did not have any specific questions or reservations about the security arrangements around the tournament being held in the country: "Bangladesh submitted a detailed security plan to the ACC. If any member has any other concerns, they should address it with Bangladesh."
ESPNcricinfo understands that concerns were unofficially raised by the PCB about the security situation, with regards to the Pakistan team being in Bangladesh in the current political climate. Regardless of the announcements from the meeting, it is expected that further discussions on the matter will take place in Dubai on January 9 during an ICC executive board meeting, and a question mark remains over Pakistan's participation in the Asia Cup. "They feel it is still a delicate situation," an ACC member said. It is understood that the PCB will seek advice from its government before making its mind up.
The PCB's concerns have arisen in light of the diplomatic row between the governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh. The issue concerns the trial of 1971 war criminals in Bangladesh, which is taking place more than four decades after Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan.
The ACC's decision will give the BCB enough impetus to convince Sri Lanka Cricket of going through with the bilateral series, which is scheduled to begin on January 27. Jayantha Dharmadasa, the SLC chairman, said a decision on the tour would be made soon.
"Sri Lanka are also due to tour Bangladesh from January 24, and SLC is presently conducting its own security appraisal. A final decision on whether that tour will go ahead as scheduled will be made on January 9," Dharmadasa said.
The ICC, too, will hold security inspections in Bangladesh, before deciding whether to retain Bangladesh as the host for the World Twenty20.
The political situation in Bangladesh - general elections are to be held this week - and the resulting violence across the country had raised concerns over whether the tournaments could be held in the country. Although the issue was not discussed formally, it is understood that with the Asia Cup going ahead without any hiccups, the World Twenty20, scheduled to start after the Asia Cup, will be held in Bangladesh across the three venues finalised by the ICC.
Huq said the schedule would be finalised soon, considering Afghanistan would need to be slotted in. According to Huq, Afghanistan were included to provide them with more exposure: "They are playing very well and have got ODI status from the ICC, and the Asia Cup will help them prepare for both the World Twenty20s and the 2015 World Cup."
Apart from finalising Bangladesh as a host, the ACC also awarded broadcast rights for this edition of the tournament to Star India. It has cut ties with Nimbus, the previous broadcast partners.
The meeting in Colombo was chaired by BCCI president N Srinivasan, who is also chairman of the ACC. PCB CEO Subhan Ahmed, Dharmadasa and SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga, BCB president Nazmul Hassan and acting CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury along with presidents of the Singapore, Thailand and Bhutan cricket associations attended the meeting.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here; Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo