Hong Kong to take on likes of India and Pakistan after confirming their place in main event with victory over UAE in Asia Cup Qualifier final
Asia Cup 2018 lowdown: teams, venues and everything else you need to know about the tournament in Dubai and Abu Dhabi
What time do Asia Cup matches start?
The 14th Asia Cup will begin at Dubai International Stadium on Saturday, September 15, when Bangladesh play Sri Lanka. All matches start at 3.30pm UAE time.
India are the holders, having won the first Twenty20 version of the tournament in Dhaka in 2016, but their title defence will not be easy.
The event starts just three days after the scheduled end of their five Test series in England. Given the workload, captain Virat Kohli is skipping the tournament and having a rest instead.
India, who will be led by Rohit Sharma in Kohli's absence, begin their campaign against Hong Kong on Tuesday, September 18 in Dubai, then play rivals Pakistan at the same venue the very next day.
Hong Kong made it to the main event after beating UAE by two wickets in the final of the qualifying tournament in Malaysia.
The six-team tournament will be split into two groups of three. The top two sides from each pool will advance to the Super Four stage. The two highest-placed sides will contest the final on September 28 in Dubai.
Unusually, the two sides that advance from each group will play each other again in the second round – which increases the prospect of India and Pakistan meeting more than once.
It was rumoured that broadcasters wanted the event to continue in the T20 format, as it was last time, in Bangladesh two years ago. That tournament was played in the lead up to the World T20 in India, so it made sense to play that form.
However, the organisers were keen to return to 50-over matches this time around, for broadly similar reasons. This competition will provide valuable, high-stakes preparation with a view to the 50-over World Cup in England next summer.
Asia Cup Qualifier: Hong Kong beat UAE to book Asia Cup place
A – India, Pakistan, Hong Kong
B – Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan
Dubai International Stadium
Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Sat, Sep 15, Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, Dubai
Sun, Sep 16, Pakistan v Hong Kong, Dubai
Mon, Sep 17, Sri Lanka v Afghanistan, Abu Dhabi
Tue, Sep 18, India v Hong Kong, Dubai
Wed, Sep 19, India v Pakistan, Dubai
Thu, Sep 20, Bangladesh v Afghanistan, Abu Dhabi
(If India advance, tournament conditions stipulate they will play as A Qualifier 1. Therefore, all their matches are guaranteed to be in Dubai)
Fri, Sep 21, A Qualifier 1 v B Qualifier 2, Dubai; A Qualifier 2 v B Qualifier 1, Abu Dhabi
Sun, Sep 23, A Qualifier 1 v A Qualifier 2, Dubai; B Qualifier 1 v B Qualifier 2, Abu Dhabi
Tue, Sep 25, A Qualifier 1 v B Qualifier 1, Dubai
Wed, Sep 26, A Qualifier 2 v B Qualifier 2, Abu Dhabi
Fri, Sep 28
Tickets for Dubai matches start at Dh35, and for Abu Dhabi’s games at Dh20. Visit https://dubai.platinumlist.net/asiacup for more information.
All the matches will be shown live on OSN Cricket HD in the Middle East. Full listings are available at www.osn.com/sports
Coverage of the matches will be broadcast on 89.1 Radio 4 FM and Gold 101.3 FM
India are the most successful side in Asia Cup history, having won six of the 13 tournaments to date.
Sri Lanka are the next most successful, with five titles, while Pakistan have won twice.
It is the third time the tournament has been staged in UAE. The first one, in 1984, was played in Sharjah, where the newly-formed Asian Cricket Council, had their headquarters.
Hong Kong are playing for the third time, having also qualified in 2004 and 2008. Afghanistan are playing for the second time.