The 2021 edition of the Asia Cup has been called off due to the rising threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Asia Cup T20 cricket tournament was supposed to be held in Sri Lanka in June. The Sri Lanka cricket board amidst rising infections in the country took the decision. The Asia Cup 2021 was initially supposed to be held in Pakistan but then was shifted to Sri Lanka. This is not only the tournament that has been affected by the pandemic currently.
The Indian Premier League, a T20 tournament which is organized every year in India which sees the participation of the best cricketers across the world has also been postponed due to the pandemic. The news is bound to sadden cricket fans because the second wave of the pandemic has been affecting sporting events which had gradually started resuming after the first wave in a big way. Let us have a look at the details of this decision.
The decision taken
The decision has been announced by Ashely de Silva, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sri Lanka Cricket. De Silva has told reporters that, “Due to the prevailing situation, it will not be possible to play the Asia Cup 2021 tournament in June this year”. This is the second time that the Asia Cup has been shifted. At first, it was supposed to be held in Pakistan. The venue had to be changed due to the ongoing tension between Pakistan and India. The Asia Cup 2021 was initially supposed to be played in September 2020. It would have acted as a preparation for the T20 World Cup 202o. Then the T20 World Cup 2020 got postponed due to the pandemic and was shifted to late 2021. Thus, even this tournament was pushed to June 2021.
The BCCI also scheduled the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates at that point of time. Sri Lanka is now going through the third wave of the pandemic and the numbers are rising very fast. Sri Lanka will be closing its borders from the 21st of May for a period of ten days to stop the spread of the virus. The country has just emerged from a 3 day lockdown but the infections have increased. The country had been trying to revive its tourism economy from January but the recent decisions had to be taken in light of the increasing infections. Therefore, it will be extremely difficult to hold a full-fledged tournament in the country.
What will happen to the tournament?
It is not clear when the re-scheduled Asia Cup 2021 tournament shall take place. There are various other tour commitments of all the Asian cricket teams and getting a slot where all teams are free might be difficult. Silva has hinted at the event being pushed back to till after the 2023 one-day international World Cup because of the prior commitments of the teams. Therefore, the future of the tournament seems a bit uncertain at the moment.
Commitments of Sri Lanka cricket
The Sri Lankan cricket team however is not at home. It is currently touring Bangladesh for a three-match ODI series. All the matches are scheduled to be held in the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Dhaka. All precautions are being observed in sporting events across the world and players are being made to live in bubbles. The Sri Lankan cricket team will play its matches against Bangladesh on the 23rd, 25th, and 28th of May respectively. It shall be returning to Sri Lanka on the 29th of May.
Sri Lanka has stopped arrivals from other countries and so it is not clear whether the team shall be able to return on the scheduled day of arrival. Apart from the tournament, Sri Lanka is also supposed to host India for a white ball series in July. India and Sri Lanka are set to face each other for three ODIS and three T20Is. The matches are scheduled to begin on the 13th of July, 2021. No decision regarding cancellation or postponement has been announced about these series.
Cricket had been gradually resuming across the world after the first wave of the pandemic. However, the subsequent waves of the pandemic are pushing many parts of the world in a lockdown yet again. Fans of cricket are disappointed that an entire tournament got shifted due to the pandemic. Vaccination however is a viable solution to the virus. Let us hope that infections subside and we get to enjoy cricket matches in stadiums again as soon as possible.