Why did India refuse to play Asia Cup 2023 in Pakistan & its possible impact?

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which has been expeditiously making its mark in bringing International Cricket back into the Country has just received a halt after India categorically denied sending their team for Asia Cup 2023 within the neighbouring country.

Although the refusal isn’t too surprising but after successful tours to Pakistan from several sides which include top-tier playing nations like Australia, England & South Africa. The rigid stance of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is indeed contentious.

Reasons for India’s repudiation from Asia Cup 2023?

The bilateral cricketing ties between the two countries have been grim for quite a while, but the possible rationale for the recent refusal from BCCI can be traced back to the second last Asia Cup. The Asia Cup 2018 which was all set to be hosted in India was moved out to the United Arab Emirates after the transcending political turmoil between the two nations compelled PCB to raise specific objections and concerns. Mr Jay Shah also hinted at this very fact in his recent statement:

“We (India) can’t go there, they (Pakistan) can’t come here. In the past also the Asia Cup has been played at a neutral venue.”

Moreover, In the identical year (2018), BCCI backed out of sending their emerging team to Pakistan for Emerging Teams Asia Cup. Pakistan was solemnly destined to host the third edition of this tournament. Consequently, Sri Lanka became the co-host of the event. So this clearly isn’t the first time that India has refrained from playing in the neighbouring land. 

Another prominent factor which unfortunately always has played the spoilsport could be the involvement of petty politics. Mr Jay Shah who is currently the BCCI’s secretary and President of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) is believed to have strong political affiliations, as he is the son of a renowned political personality Mr Amit Shah, a member of the ruling government in India and former president of BJP.

Besides that, Politics dictating terms in Indian cricket isn’t something confidential as BCCI itself has been very vocal in this regard and has clearly mentioned on several instances that cricketing relations with Pakistan are subject to Government’s decision. The recent remarks from Jay Shah didn’t fail to incorporate this recurring practice either, as he said:

“We’ll have Asia Cup 2023 at a neutral venue. It’s the govt which decides over the permission of our team visiting Pakistan so we won’t comment on that but for the 2023 Asia Cup, it is decided that the tournament will be held at a neutral venue”

Possible Impact on Pakistan Cricket if Asia Cup is staged at a Neutral Venue?

Persistent efforts from PCB have successfully reinfused the confidence back into the international teams, players and their representative organizations like FICA (Federation of International Cricketers). However, the refusal from BCCI and subsequently Asia Cup 2023 moving out from the country can severely hit the attempts to organize major tournaments like Champions Trophy 2025 within Pakistan.

PCB is finding itself in yet another dilemma. Nonetheless, the only way out of this would be nothing but a bold stance. Fortunately, in this particular regard, Pakistan cricket’s stakeholders do have examples to lead by. For instance, the cancellations from New Zealand and England a year ago were dealt in a robust and expressive manner. An analogous approach is indeed the need of the hour.  

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