Asia Cup 2016 is set to undergo a radical change and will be a Twenty20 competition instead of the 50-over game, outgoing Asian Cricket Council (ACC) chief executive Syed Ashraful Haq revealed on Thursday.
Ashraful said that not only would the tournament continue every two years, it would be revamped to include more Associate nations and mirror the World Cup format.
He added the 2016 edition would be held early next year as a prelude to the World Twenty20, which will be held in India from March 11 to April 3, according to an exclusive report cricket.com.au.
The tournament would then revert to a 50-over tournament in 2018 ahead of the 2019 World Cup in England and be played as a T20 competition again in 2020.
“As there is a World Twenty20 in 2016, the Asia Cup next year will also be of Twenty20 Internationals in February or March. The host country has not been decided yet. The year 2020 will again see the tournament in T20 format and there will be another 50-over Asia Cup in 2022,” Ashraful said.
The chief executive suggested the change in format could also see two Associate nations join India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Afghanistan, Nepal, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates have Twenty20 status.
“There may be one or two teams from Associate nations as well. They could join India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the main tournament after playing a qualifying round,” Ashraful said.
Bangladesh hosted the previous two Asia Cups in 2012 and 2014. Sri Lanka won the last Asia Cup and has won the competition five times since its inception in 1984. India has won it five times while Pakistan has won it twice.
The ACC is to be wound down by June 30 and its operations absorbed by the International Cricket Council (ICC), prompting fears that the Asia Cup could be disbanded.
Ashraful confirmed that the ACC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur would close on June 30 and the development work currently done by the organisation would be taken over by the ICC.