DUBAI: Whenever the Asian Cup matches are drawn, it is to make up for the lack of India-Pakistan bilateral cricket. The calendar, no doubt, prioritizes the convenience of India. The other teams jostle between Dubai and Sharjah. They have less respite before a final. India are the star team, always. Market forces, broadcasters and game gatekeepers are betting on India’s presence throughout the tournament.
This time, however, there is no Indian team for the final four days of the tournament. The buzz died down very quickly. It is a kind of anti-climax for stakeholders.
However, there is a final to be played on Sunday evening. Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the two finalists, were forced to play a meaningless game on Friday night. Both teams canceled training sessions and media interactions on the eve of the final. The final could signal the re-emergence of two teams that had fallen behind in the cricketing power circuit for the past decade. On the cricket grounds, these two teams, along with the fiery Afghanistan, lit up the tournament.
Four years ago, organizers found themselves in a similar space when Pakistan crashed out two nights before the final. The presence of India was a respite. But this tournament challenged their marketing strategies. The buzz here was still in anticipation of an Indo-Pakistani final, capping a possible three-game tie between the two teams. On the form and the pre-tournament environment, few people would have imagined that Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan would qualify for the final. India’s collapse in the tournament has created a sticky situation with tickets now.
Wandering through Dubai Sports City, home to the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, you might find Pakistani and Sri Lankan fans stressed out about securing tickets for Sunday’s game. The reason? The majority of tickets were already booked by Indian fans. Many Indian fans are now trying to sell their tickets on social media.
India’s early exit may have been a financial disruption. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the two teams on the pitch on Sunday were the teams that played with impeccable planning and boundless passion.
“When it comes to Asian cricket, everyone talks about India-Pakistan, but we have a very good team, which can win. We prefer to focus on how we play,” the Lanka captain said. Dasun Shanaka said.
Pakistani captain Babar Azammeanwhile said: “We’ve seen great performances and different players have impressed. When building a team, it’s great for us that different players have stepped up. As a captain, it’s important to me, and it helps pave the way for future success for the team as well.”