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The year 2023 has a lot of cricket in store for Pakistan, but what makes it all the more glittery and glorious is the ODI Asia Cup 2023 which will see the country as hosts. The last time Pakistan hosted Asia Cup was in 2008, after which the nation saw a dark period of political unrest and desertification of its cricket stadiums.
Most of the teams in the Asia Cup have already visited Pakistan after the games resumed in the country except for India. Owing to seemingly unresolvable differences, the two countries haven’t played a single game in either of the countries. And while the fans on both sides are ecstatic to see them play in Pakistan, it is still unknown if India will tour Pakistan to play in the ODI Asia Cup 2023.
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ODI Asia Cup 2023: So will India come?
Rohit Sharma’s army would definitely want to play the 50-over Asia Cup 2023, but if it’s held in Pakistan, then there’s no guarantee. A lot of speculations were raised when the venue for the 2023 mega event was announced. Many articulated that the men in blue will probably withdraw from the event and others just hoped team India would finally break the almost 18-year hiatus.
What makes India so hesitant to tour?
Up till 2005/2006, there have been regular tours between the two countries. But then the 2008 Mumbai attacks happened, which the country blamed on Pakistan and that saw the downfall of cricket, especially the bilateral series between the two nations.
To break the ice, green shirts paid a visit to play T20Is and ODIs but that was the last of the bilateral series. With time, extremism rose on either side of the border, and the dreams and hopes for a possible tour began to fade away. Babar and his men were scheduled to play T20I World Cup which was being hosted by India but a Covid outbreak forced the ICC to shift the venue to Dubai and Sharjah.
PCB and BCCI in talks
The current chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Ramiz Raja and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly have met on several occasions including the T20I World Cup 2021 and during the Asia Cup 2022. Both heads were seen having private conversations but none bore the confirmation of India’s participation in the ODI Asia Cup 2023.
Raja, in a meeting held by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) last year, denied the possibility of participation in muffled words. He said, “ I met with BCCI President Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah on the sidelines of the ACC meetings. We need to create a cricketing bond, while I have also believed that politics should stay away from the sport as much as possible and this has always been our stance.”
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What do the fans want?
The Asia Cup 2023 is a glimmer of hope for fans who want India to tour Pakistan and vice versa. It is no doubt that certain players from the blue jerseys have a lot of fan following especially Virat Kohli. When Pakistan was announced as the host of the event, the green fans were elated. Some of them even brought posters during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) displaying their excitement to see Indian players play in Pakistan cricket stadium.
The love’s mutual as the cricket fraternity from across the border possess the same sentiments. Recently, when the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) offered to hold a series between Pakistan and India, a popular Indian cricket fan account Twitter quickly jumped in to express that they would rather like to see from the stands in Lahore and Karachi.
The final verdict
While the chances of India visiting Pakistan for the ODI Asia Cup 2023 are very few, it is still too early to say anything. The BCCI might try to pressurize the ACC to shift the series to a neutral venue because it is seemingly impossible that India will withdraw from the tournament. But Ramiz Raja has been adamant since day one that Pakistan will play all home games at home and there will be no second opinions about it. But we also do know the powers BCCI holds. So the final verdict is that only time will tell and it is very early to put a definitive statement out there.