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News

Rain could force Asia Cup matches out of Colombo

The city is scheduled to host five games in the Super four round and the final

Virat Kohli shares a light moment with Pakistan players after the match was called off, India vs Pakistan, Asia Cup, Pallekele, September 2, 2023

The India-Pakistan washout has raised concerns over their next possible meeting in Colombo  •  AFP/Getty Images

Wet weather could further impact the Asia Cup schedule with the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) considering moving games in the Super Four round away from Colombo. Officials from Sri Lanka Cricket and the PCB have confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that they are looking at alternative venues in Sri Lanka where relatively drier weather is forecast.
Although this is not the monsoon season in Sri Lanka, Colombo has had heavy rain in the last few days, leading to flooding in parts of the northern reaches of the city, not far from where the Khettarama Stadium is located.
This, plus the washout of the Pakistan-India match in Pallekele on Saturday, has prompted fresh conversations between the ACC and the broadcasters Disney Star*.
September is often not an especially rainy month in Colombo as the northeast monsoon generally starts in October. Since 2015, the Khettarama ground, which is scheduled to host five Super Four games and the final between the 6th and 17th, has staged five men's T20Is and four men's ODIs in the month of September. All of those matches were completed and only two were rain-reduced.
It is not clear to what extent tournament organisers have consulted with Sri Lanka's meteorologists. Officials ESPNcricinfo talked to could not give specifics as to what kind of weather was expected in Colombo over the coming weeks. It is instead the washing out of the marquee India-Pakistan match that has raised alarm.
If matches are moved out of Colombo, an alternative venue is also an issue. Dambulla had been suggested as an option, but it is understood India have not been satisfied with hotel and accommodation facilities there, while SLC officials claim there is work ongoing on the stadium floodlights - a long-standing issue the board has apparently not appropriately fixed. Dambulla lies in Sri Lanka's "dry zone" and as such receives substantially less rainfall than both Kandy and Colombo at this time of year.
Hambantota, which is also on the border of the dry and wet zones, could be another option. But that stadium is essentially located on the edges of a jungle and there are no close-by accommodation options. It would be a logistical hassle for SLC if matches are moved there.
Broadcasters are also understood to be reluctant to split the remaining games across two venues, because it would either involve transporting equipment back and forth by road, or maintaining broadcasting infrastructure at two separate locations in Sri Lanka.
If some or all matches are moved away from Colombo, it will further impact a tournament already beset by scheduling challenges. Pakistan are the tournament's official hosts, but India's refusal to play there has meant several teams shuttling back and forth between the two countries.
ESPNcricinfo and Disney Star are part of the Walt Disney Company.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf