India and Pakistan have been placed in the same group for this year's Asia Cup, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) have announced.
The tournament - the ninth to be held - will be staged in Pakistan in June and July, and all teams have confirmed their availability and satisfaction of touring the country, in spite of the recent violence. Two weeks ago Australia had decided to postpone their scheduled tour of Pakistan, to begin later this month, owing to security concerns.
"All the participating nations have confirmed their participation and we hope to have a safe and highly competitive Asia Cup in three months' time," Ashraful Huq, the ACC chief executive, told reporters at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. "Australians are unaware of our culture and they don't have an idea that no sporting activity has ever been hurt in Asia. All the teams are going to take part barring any major disaster."
The three sides in each group play each other once, with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the second phase, where they will again play each other once.
"Karachi will host ten of the thirteen matches, while Lahore will host three and since the event is played in the summer season all matches will be day-night, starting late in the afternoon," Huq said. "I have always felt that this was one of the most important tournaments," Arjuna Ranatanga, the ACC chairman, added. "I am delighted to see Pakistan hosting it and everyone has agreed to send their best teams for it.
"The PCB has been like an elder brother to Sri Lanka and always helped us out."
The first Asia Cup was held in 1984 in the UAE. India have won the event four times, while Sri Lanka have lifted the Cup three times and Pakistan once.
Group A: Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates
Group B: Pakistan, India, Hong Kong