KARACHI: Pakistan will not participate in this year’s Asia Cup if it is deprived of the hosting rights of the tournament owing to India’s concerns over touring the neighbouring country due to security issues.

The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) meeting on Monday, Dawn understands, was not enough to break the deadlock between the body and the Pakistan Cricket Board over the matter, which has been hanging in balance since ACC president Jay Shah — who is also the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary — unilaterally annou­nced last year that the Asia Cup will not be held in Pakistan citing India’s inability to travel across the border in case of government’s disapproval.

The ACC, however, has gone back to the drawing board to chalk out a “hybrid model” for the tournament, which is likely to see India playing their matches at another venue.

Even in such a case, it is understood that the PCB will ensure it gets maximum benefit as the rightful hosts of the Asia Cup with Pakistan getting to play all of their matches at home — excluding those against India — and the maximum number of matches being held in the country.

If the hybrid model isn’t satisfactory for the PCB, it may see Pakistan pull out of the Asia Cup.

A problem that may occur with India playing their matches at a neutral venue is that the availability of a suitable one may be difficult in September — the period earmarked for the tournament.

The United Arab Emirates — regarded one of the most convenient venues for such situations — will be experiencing soaring temperatures during the said time of the year. Reportedly, Oman and Sri Lanka are being considered as other viable options while England, although ambitious, is also under consideration to host India’s matches.

The ACC is yet to make a final ann­ou­ncement over the Asia Cup’s fate.

Dawn understands that the PCB’s interim Management Committee chairman Najam Sethi has made the board’s stance clear in front of the ACC officials. Moreover, it has emerged that Sethi is mulling over demanding a similar hybrid model for the ICC Cricket World Cup – for which Pakistan will be required to fly to India, with the country set to host the 50-over showpiece in October-November.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2023

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