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Reports: India not to leave Dubai till the end of the tournament

India will face Hong Kong in their first game of the series on September 18 (Monday), followed by the epic encounter against Pakistan on the very next day.

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni of India. (Photo Source: Twitter)

With the Asia Cup 2018, underway in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) starting September 15 with a clash between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh being the first offering of the tournament, the excitement among fans is beyond imaginable. Owing to some last-minute adjustments, Team India will reportedly enjoy the exclusive privilege of being stationed in Dubai all throughout the tournament.

India will face Hong Kong in their first game of the series on September 18 (Monday), followed by the epic encounter against Pakistan on the very next day. The Indian team will be playing without the services of their regular ODI skipper Virat Kohli, who’s been rested for the series. Instead, Rohit Sharma will be leading the team in the tournament.

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ACC calls in some last-minute rescheduling

The Asia Cup 2018 stirred up controversy with its schedule when two back-to-back matches were announced for India. The decision to make the players play 200-odd overs in the sweltering heat of UAE and have them shuttle between two venues was slammed by stalwarts of the game, including Virender Sehwag. Dissatisfaction over the decision was also reportedly by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

As reported by Gulf News, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), with some last minute rescheduling, has managed to pacify the cash-rich Indian board. According to the new schedule, India will be staying put at Dubai till September 28, irrespective of where they finish in the group after the completion of the league stage. Though the tournament has been shifted to UAE, India will enjoy the host privileges and have already opted for exclusive accommodation to house its team and sponsors.

According to an anonymous source inside BCCI, the change was opted by India but the reason behind the switch was nothing other than maximization of ticket sales. “It is a BCCI tournament and we have the right to ensure we get the most out of it. The capacity of the Dubai stadium is approximately 55,000 — way more than Abu Dhabi. We are expecting at least 35,000 for India matches if not full house like the one for India vs Pakistan match. There is no other hidden agenda for the change,” he said.

Speaking on the issue, Matt Boucher, Abu Dhabi Cricket’s Acting CEO said, “We are the proud hosts of the Asia Cup and we are happy to go with the ACC and BCCI’s scheduling for the tournament. Yes, it would have been nice if India would have played here but Pakistan will be playing here on a Friday and I’m pretty much sure that will draw in a lot of crowd.”

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