NEW DELHI: The fate of this year’s Asia Cup, which may determine Pakistan’s participation in the World Cup in India, will be decided on the sidelines of Sunday’s Indian Premier League (IPL) final in Ahmedabad, Asian Cricket Council (ACC) President Jay Shah said.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), host of the eight-team Asia Cup in September, has offered a “hybrid” model to stage some matches at a neutral venue after India refused to tour the country.
Owing to their soured political relations, bilateral cricket between India and Pakistan remains suspended and they play each other only in multi-team events.
Pakistan have threatened to boycott the World Cup in India in October-November should they be forced to stage the entire Asia Cup in another country, which could be the United Arab Emirates.
Shah said cricket chiefs from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan would attend the IPL final in Ahmedabad on Sunday, where a final decision would be taken.
“We will hold discussions with them for outlining the future course of action in relation to Asia Cup 2023,” Shah, also the secretary of the powerful Indian board, said in a brief statement on Thursday.
PCB chairman Najam Sethi was likely to join the meeting virtually, a source told Reuters.
With the Indian cricket team not travelling to the Pakistan without the country’s government’s permission, PCB chairman Najam Sethi had proposed the “hybrid” model where four games are supposed to be hosted in their country.
The Press Trust of India (PTI) learnt from ACC sources that Sethi’s proposed model that Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan play four preliminary matches in Pakistan with India playing all its games at neutral venues, looks like a feasible solution although the ACC had made no formal statements.
The two India-Pakistan games will also be held in Sri Lanka although the PCB wants them in Dubai.
“ACC head Jay Shah will summon an executive body meeting where a formal announcement will take place,” an ACC source told PTI.
“The PCB doesn’t mind playing India at a neutral venue. While they would prefer Dubai because it would lead to more gate receipts, it is open to playing in another country (read Sri Lanka) provided the ACC matches the gate receipts amount (USD 0.5 million) that Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) received in 2022 from the Indo-Pak games in Dubai.”
While PCB maintains that playing the World Cup in India is subject to government clearance and is a matter to be treated in isolation from Asia Cup hosting rights, it is a foregone conclusion that neither BCCI, nor ICC or the host broadcasters will be agreeable to an India-Pakistan World Cup match taking place in Bangladesh.
Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2023