New Delhi, July 19: India will face arch-rivals Pakistan in their first match of Asia Cup 2023 on September 2 in Kandy, Sri Lanka, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) president & BCCI secretary Jay Shah confirmed on Wednesday while announcing the schedule for the premier Asian tournament.
The six-nation tournament will be played in Pakistan and Sri Lanka under a hybrid model of hosting games.The tournament will start on August 30, when Pakistan take on Nepal in Multan. The final will be held on September 17 in Colombo.
The Asia Cup 2023 will be played in 50-over format ahead of the Men's ODI World Cup, to be held in India from October 5 to November 19. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Nepal, the winners of ACC Men's Premier Cup, will compete in a total of 13 ODI matches in the tournament.
"I am happy to announce the schedule for the highly anticipated Men's ODI #AsiaCup2023, a symbol of unity and togetherness binding diverse nations together! Let's join hands in the celebration of cricketing excellence and cherish the bonds that connect us all. @ACCMedia1," wrote Jay Shah on Twitter.
India and Pakistan have been grouped together alongside Nepal in Group A while Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are the sides featuring in Group B.
India won the tournament the last time it was held in 50-over format in the UAE in 2018. On the other hand, Sri Lanka are the defending champions of Asia Cup held in 20-over format last year in the UAE.
Barring Nepal, the Asia Cup serves as vital preparation for the rest of five teams for the ODI World Cup.
The 2023 edition of Asia Cup, which is also the 16th edition of the tournament, will feature two groups, with two teams from each group qualifying for the Super Four stage. The top two teams from the Super Four stage will then face off in the final.
After Multan hosts the tournament opener, Lahore will host two group stage games -- Bangladesh vs Afghanistan and Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan --- on September 3 and 5 respectively, as well as one Super fours match between A1 and B2 sides on September 6.
In Sri Lanka, Kandy will host group matches, ending with India vs Nepal on September 4. Capital city Colombo will then take over to host five Super Fours games and the final.
The schedule also said that irrespective of where teams finish in the first round, Pakistan will remain A1 and India will be A2, while Sri Lanka will be B1 and Bangladesh B2. In case Nepal and Afghanistan qualify for the Super Fours stage of the competition, they will take the slot of the team knocked out from their respective groups.