After some challenging years for Pakistan following the attack on the Sri Lankan team, the country has once again started hosting international cricket matches. With the hosting rights for the Asia Cup 2023 and Champions Trophy 2025 in its hands, Pakistan seemed to be on the path to recovery. However, there has been a setback for PCB as India has refused to play in Pakistan and now Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have supported BCCI’s decision to move the Asia Cup out of Pakistan.
This could be a major setback for PCB and Pakistan Cricket as it may affect their hosting rights for the Champions Trophy 2025 and the likelihood of big teams touring Pakistan in the future.
India’s Refusal To Play Asia Cup In Pakistan
India has declined to participate in the Asia Cup scheduled to be held in Pakistan, citing security and political concerns. The ongoing political unrest and the issue of Kashmir are believed to be the primary reasons for this decision. This is not the first time that India has brought politics into cricket. The BCCI, led by Jay Shah, had proposed holding the Asia Cup 2023 at a neutral venue, but this proposal was rejected by the PCB. This decision of the BCCI could prove to be a setback for PCB.
Pakistan Propose Hybrid Model
Due to tensions between Pakistan and India, the PCB presented a hybrid model for the Asia Cup in which India could play their matches outside Pakistan while all other matches would be played in Pakistan. This was considered a good suggestion, but it was rejected by the BCCI, as Jay Shah was more inclined to move the Asia Cup out of Pakistan.
However, it is important to note that the BCB and SLC cited logistical challenges involved in traveling between Pakistan and a second country during the Asia Cup, which is scheduled to be played in September, a month before the ODI World Cup is held across India.
Also Read: Unplayable Naseem Shah: Dominating the Crease and Making Batsmen Tremble
Both boards also pointed out that the extreme heat in the UAE in the first half of September was a deterrent. Mohan de Silva, the SLC secretary, told ESPNcricinfo: “We have written to the ACC to say that we are against the hybrid model. But beyond that, no final decision has been reached. It’s very hot in the UAE at that time of year.”
Confusion for Bangladesh and Sri Lanka
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are currently in a state of confusion even though they have rejected the PCB’s hybrid model, in which part of the tournament would be played in the UAE. However, according to a PCB official, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka stated in an email that they have no problem playing in Pakistan. This complicates the situation even further as India has already stated that it will not travel to Pakistan.
Afghanistan Is Neutral
Afghanistan has taken a neutral stance on the issue of the Asia Cup venue. An Afghanistan spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo: “In the previous two ACC meetings, we have strongly emphasized the importance of conducting the event at the scheduled time. As for the venue, we are abiding by the decisions made by the ACC and have no interest in favouring or objecting to any particular board’s stance on the matter.
Our priority is to ensure a fair and competitive tournament that benefits the growth and development of cricket in the region. This leaves three main members except the host and Pakistan needs to have the support of the remaining two countries, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka otherwise it could be a major setback for PCB and Pakistan Cricket.
You might be interested in: Babar Azam’s 100th ODI outing: How far has he come?
Should Pakistan Apply Sri Lanka’s Strategy?
Most Pakistanis have rejected the idea of hosting the Asia Cup in another country. However, the PCB still has the option of applying the strategy used by the SLC board, in which the hosting country retains the hosting and marketing rights but the tournament is played in another country. While this could damage Pakistan’s reputation, it would prevent any financial loss for the country and the setback for PCB could be minimized.
Is There Any Other Option For Pakistan?
The PCB is left with no other option except to host the Asia Cup in another country or to play it without India. The BCCI has made it clear that the Indian Cricket Team will not travel to Pakistan. The Asia Cup could be played without India, but that could result in a financial loss for the PCB as it would not attract as many fans and the potential revenue which gets generated by a Pakistan vs India match would be lost. In both cases, this is a setback for Pakistan.
Another threat for Pakistan is that the Asia Cup could be moved to Sri Lanka if the current situation continues. And Sri Lanka is also willing to host the whole tournament. However, PCB has a strong stance on hosting the Asia Cup 2023.
Should Pakistan Also Refuse To Go To India?
With the ODI World Cup 2023 being played in India, some Pakistani fans have suggested that the PCB should either not travel to India for the World Cup or request that it should be moved out of India. However, this could result in a loss for both cricket boards.