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Asia Cup to go ahead in Bangladesh

COLOMBO--Asia's cricket chiefs on Saturday said violence-plagued Bangladesh would remain the venue for next month's Asia Cup and added Afghanistan as the fifth team in the regional one-day tournament.

Some observers had expected officials to move the tournament out of Bangladesh following an outbreak of violent protests and strikes in the capital Dhaka ahead of elections Sunday.

“The tournament will go ahead as scheduled in Bangladesh from Feb 25,” Asian Cricket Council (ACC) chief executive Ashraful Huq told AFP after an executive board meeting in Colombo.

“Everything is in place for the tournament, no one raised any issue about safety,” Huq said, adding the Bangladesh Cricket Board had made a detailed security presentation at the meeting.

An ACC release said 11 matches will be played in the tournament with the final on March 8.

Election-related violence in Bangladesh has claimed more than 140 lives since late October, with opposition parties boycotting the polls and organizing a series of blockades across the country.

The Pakistan Cricket Board had said on Thursday it was seeking its government's advice about sending a team for the Asia Cup due to the continuing political unrest in Bangladesh.

But Huq said Pakistan did not raise any security concerns at the meeting. “Pakistan have said yes, they have not said no,” he said.

However, a Pakistan board source told AFP on Saturday that it will seek further clarification on the Asia Cup during a meeting of the International Cricket Council on Jan. 9.

Afghanistan will join Asia's four Test nations — India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — in the 50-over tournament, Huq added.

The fast-improving Afghanistan team, which has qualified for their maiden appearance in the 50-over World Cup, have also made it to their third successive World Twenty20.

“This is a big step forward for Afghanistan,” Huq said. “Their participation in the Asia Cup will encourage them for the bigger tests ahead.”

Bangladesh is also due to host the World Twenty20 tournament from March 16 to April 6.

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