Asia Cup matches may be moved from Colombo to Hambantota

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The Asia Cup matches previously scheduled in Colombo may be relocated to Hambantota, as the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) scrambles to reduce the risk of matches being impacted due to rain. Hambantota typically receives significantly less rainfall in September than Colombo and Pallekele, which is why there is a push to move the matches there.

However, there are logistical complications with moving matches to this venue on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. As it is located essentially in a jungle near the small town of Sooriyawewa – some distance from any urban centres – high-quality hotels are all at least a 45-minute drive away. Because the potential re-scheduling has come late, it is unclear whether organisers can secure enough rooms for the four teams and support staff, as well as match officials, commentators, and broadcast crew.

An SLC official ESPNcricinfo spoke to on Monday, however, said that logistics remained the only obstacle to the back end of the tournament being moved to Hambantota. According to PCB sources, Hambantota has been signed off on as the venue.

While Colombo has successfully hosted limited-overs matches in September in the last few years, the previous few days have seen substantial rainfall in the city, with flooding seen in the northern reaches of town, not far from the Khettarama stadium. This rainfall, plus the washout of the Pakistan v India match in Pallekele, raised alarm among the broadcasters and tournament organisers. Rain also impacted the India-Nepal fixture in Pallekele.

SLC officials said they would prefer the matches to remain in Colombo, if only to avoid a logistical hassle. But they seem to prefer the idea of moving the games to Hambantota, rather than Dambulla, which is perhaps the driest venue in the country. SLC officials claim this is because the floodlights in Dambulla are not sufficient to host the Asia Cup, though the venue hosted a day/night ODI as recently as 2018.

The Super Four matches impacted by the schedule change are scheduled for September 9, 10, 12 and 14, with the final to be played on September 15. Hambantota most recently hosted two ODIs between Pakistan and Afghanistan on August 22 and 24.