Lahore, July 16 (IANS): The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced on Saturday that it will support Sri Lanka to host the 2022 Asian Cup from August 27 to September 11 despite civil and political unrest in the country.

Although the country is in acute crisis due to daily power cuts, rising fuel prices and massive shortages of basic necessities like food and medicine which led to the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled to Singapore via the Maldives, Sri Lanka staged successful cricket tours.

Sri Lanka successfully hosted Australia’s men’s team for an all-format tour and currently host Pakistan for two Tests. The women’s team also hosted India for a series of three T20I matches and three ODIs as well.

In the past, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has asserted its ability to host the Asian Cup which is seen as a major build-up event ahead of the Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia in October-November.

“Our first preference is to support Sri Lanka and play the Asian Cup there. If this tournament is not held in Sri Lanka, it will be a huge cricket and financial loss for them. The recent Australian tour in Sri Lanka went without any problems..

“Similarly, there have been no problems with the ongoing Pakistani tour of Sri Lanka as we are in constant contact with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and our Embassy in the country. Our discussions with representatives of the ACC have suggested that the tournament is on track at the moment as they are monitoring the situation very closely and we will support their decision,” PCB General Manager Faisal Hasnain said in a statement.

The Asian Cup was originally scheduled to be held in September 2020, with India entering the competition as the defending champions. But the tournament was postponed to July 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was later rescheduled to take place in Sri Lanka in June 2021, before being postponed to August-September 2022.

Hosts Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh will feature in the tournament and will be joined by another Asian team, which could be either the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Singapore or Hong Kong, to be decided after a qualifying tournament, for which the schedule is not yet known.

The 2022 Asian Cup will be the 15th edition of the tournament, having started in 1984 in Sharjah. India are the tournament’s most successful team, having won it seven times including the T20I edition in 2016. Sri Lanka have won the competition five times while Pakistan have become the winning team twice .

Pakistan will host the next edition of the Asian Cup in 2023 which will be a 50+ competition ahead of the ODI Men’s World Cup which will be hosted by India. “The 50+ Asian Cup next year will be very important for us as it will be in preparation for our facilities and venues for the ICC Champions Trophy in 2025. In addition, the Asian Cup will serve warm-up for the participating teams for the ICC Cricket World Cup later that year in India,” concluded Hasnain.