NEW DELHI: Contra­dicting media reports that Asia Cup could be postponed and a parallel tournament, excluding Pakistan, could be played in Dubai in the same window, the Asian Cricket Council sources on Monday told the Press Trust of India that they have not sent out any such proposal to the member nations.

A report in Pakistan media claimed that if the Pakistan Cricket Board does not agree to play the Asia Cup at a neutral venue, the tournament could be taken away from the country.

The hosting rights of the 2023 Asia Cup, scheduled to be held in the 50-over format, are with the PCB but Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Jay Shah, who is also the ACC chairman, had made it clear that the Indian cricket team will not travel to Pakistan.

The PCB has proposed to host Asia Cup on a ‘hybrid model’, which would see Pakistan play their matches on home soil, while India play at a neutral venue — in all likelihood Dubai.

It is understood that the BCCI wants the entire tournament to be shifted to the UAE, much like the 2018 and 2022 editions when India and Sri Lanka were the tournament hosts.

“There has been exchange of messages but no discussion or proposal to postpone the Asia Cup has been floated,” an ACC Board member, privy to discussions on the sidelines of an ICC meet in Dubai, told PTI on the conditions of anonymity.

“Secondly, if the Asia Cup is cancelled, PCB will be intimated first. Nothing of that sort has happened till now. The ACC chairman (Shah) hasn’t yet put anything on record.

“To postpone or cancel the event, the ACC will have to call an Executive Board meeting. The chairman (Shah) can call the meeting in seven days (virtual or physical). To date, there is no intimation about any such meeting,” the source added.

The ACC source said that, to the best of his knowledge, the last official mail exchange between the PCB, ACC and BCCI was an invitation sent to the Indian team with assurance of highest degree of security and best hospitality.

“But, obviously, it is difficult for India to travel to Pakistan in the current sensitive political environment,” he agreed.

The other issue is the amount of money the official broadcaster has committed on telecast deals, that includes at least two assured India-Pakistan games. If the two teams make the final, the third game would be a bonanza.

“We must remember the media rights and the agreement with Star Sports, who have paid millions for, at least, two Pakistan vs India matches in the Asia Cup,” he said.

It is learnt that when the informal discussion was held between the ACC members about hosting the tournament at a neutral venue, the source confirmed that BCCI did get support from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

“Look, if the Asia Cup is cancelled after the ACC chairman summons an Executive Board meeting, the ramifications will not just be Pakistan’s World Cup participation but also PCB’s FTP calendar and bilateral relations with Sri Lanka, Afghanistan or Bangladesh.

“The situation is still very fluid,” the source said.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2023

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