Express Exclusive: BCCI to field men and women cricket teams for Asian Games

After earlier citing prior commitments, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has done a rethink and will now field their men’s and women’s teams at the Asian Games, where the sport will be played in the T20 format, The Indian Express has learnt.

The men’s team will be a B squad because the main team will be in the midst of the 50-over World Cup to be played at home. However, the first-string women’s team will be at the Asiad.

The Asian Games is to be held in China’s Hangzhou from September 23 to October 8, while the ICC World Cup runs from October 5 to November 23. The BCCI will be forwarding the list of players to the Indian Olympic Association before June 30.

Cricket was part of two editions of the Asiad, in 2010 and 2014, but India did not field a team. After being left out of the 2018 Asiad in Jakarta, cricket has returned to the programme for the Hangzhou Games, which were supposed to be held last year but were postponed due to China’s zero-Covid policy.

There is no clarity on whether the board will send its women’s team too.

Earlier, the Indian board had cited prior commitments as the reason for not entering the men’s and women’s teams for the continental mega event. “We have entries in all sports except one – cricket (team) isn’t going,” India’s chef de mission for the Asian Games, Bhupender Bajwa had told The Indian Express earlier. “They said they are preoccupied. We sent around 3-4 emails to them but when we had to send entries to the organisers, they said they won’t go.”

This is not the first time the BCCI will be fielding two national teams. In 1998, one Indian team competed at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur while another faced Pakistan in the Sahara Cup. More recently, in 2021, Shikhar Dhawan led a second-string Indian team for a series in Sri Lanka whereas another team, captained by Virat Kohli, was in the UK ahead of a Test series against England.

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