PCB to adopt ‘tit-for-tat’ policy as BCCI hints at shifting Asia Cup from Pakistan

Published October 19, 2022
Logo of the Pakistan Cricket Board. — Photo courtesy PCB website
Logo of the Pakistan Cricket Board. — Photo courtesy PCB website

KARACHI/LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board on Tuesday said it was “surprised and disappointed” by statements made by Board of Cricket Control in India secretary Jay Shah that next year’s Asia Cup, originally scheduled in Pakistan, would be played at a neutral venue.

Shah, who is also president of the Asian Cricket Council, told reporters after BCCI’s annual general meeting that India will not travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup.

“We [India] can’t go there, they can’t come here. In the past also, Asia Cup has been played at a neutral venue,” said Shah, who is the son on India’s home minister Amit Shah.

Shah was referring to this year’s Asia Cup, which was shifted to the United Arab Emirates due to political unrest in Sri Lanka.

Pakistan, on the other hand, has successfully hosted both Australia and England this year with September’s Asia Cup set to be the first multi-team tournament the country was hosting in decades.

“We are surprised and disappointed by the statements of BCCI secretary Jay Shah,” a PCB spokesperson told Dawn, adding that it will “ give an appropriate response at some other stage.”

Sources close to the PCB hierarchy, including chairman Ramiz Raja, however told Dawn that the country’s cricket governing body will adopt a reciprocal policy if the Asia Cup is shifted, which might see Pakistan pulling out of the ODI World Cup, which is to be hosted by India next year.

“While India’s stance of playing bilateral cricket is understood by the PCB, not making themselves available for multi-team tournaments is a breach of commitment and if India doesn’t visit Pakistan for Asia Cup PCB will seriously consider withdrawring for the 2023 World Cup,” one source said. “The PCB will raise the issue in the ICC meeting in Melbourne next month.”

While cricket tours between India and Pakistan remains suspended because of soured political relation between the neighbours, the arch-rivals clash at international and Asian tournaments. Both teams played twice in the Asia Cup last month and are set to clash in Melbourne on October 23 in the T20 World Cup.

Another source close to Ramiz said the PCB “will fight back for the reputation and integrity of Pakistan cricket”.

“The PCB will consider withdrawing from the ACC membership because the objective of forming the body was to protect the interests of its members, if it’s not doing that then it’s a useless body,” the source added.

“A decision that the ACC board should take has been taken by an individual. One man is not running the ACC, its board is. It shows bias against Pakistan as a decisive-looking statement has been made 12 months before a tournament. The PCB will write to the ACC to launch a strong protest, asking how Mr. Shah can do such a thing.”

Former PCB chairmen Zaka Ashraf and Khalid Mahmood also called for Pakistan’s incumbent cricket chief to make a lobby in the world of cricket against the decision of shifting the Asia Cup.

Zaka, during whose tenure Pakistan last toured India in 2012/13, said that the PCB should’ve monitored the situation in India, where the government had forced out BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, who was replaced by Roger Binny at Tuesday’s meeting with Shah re-elected secretary.

“It was an indication that the Indian government’s hand-picked man will take a decision against Pakistan on political grounds so the PCB should be active to mobilise its lobby around the world,” Zaka told Dawn. “PCB should make it clear that if the Asia Cup is shifted, then the World Cup in India should also be shifted.”

Khalid, meanwhile, noted that it was a testing time for the ACC to fulfill its commitment as India was present in the meeting of the Asian body where Pakistan gave the 2022 Asia Cup to Sri Lanka in return for securing hosting rights for the 2023 edition.

“The long-standing policy of the PCB of not mixing sports with politics hasn’t delivered the results as India hasn’t changed its stance against Pakistan,” Khalid told Dawn. “If the hosting rights are taken away, Pakistan should not participate in the Asia Cup at all.”

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2022

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