The stalemate over the hosting of Asia Cup 2023 — a six-nation tournament among Asian countries — ended on Thursday with the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) accepted Pakistan’s proposal and announced that the matches will be held in Pakistan and Sri Lanka on the basis of a hybrid model.
The hybrid-model solution was proposed by official Asia Cup host Pakistan after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) refused last year to tour the neighbouring country to play the tournament.
Owing to soured political relations, India and Pakistan have not met on either side’s soil in any version of the game since 2012, and only play each other in international tournaments on neutral grounds.
Under the hybrid model, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) suggested that Asia Cup matches involving India could be played at in Sri Lanka, a neutral venue.
Pakistan had also threatened to boycott the World Cup in India in October-November should they be forced to stage the entire Asia Cup in another country.
Last month, ACC President and BCCI Secretary Jay Shah had said that the fate of this year’s Asia Cup would be decided on the sidelines of then-under way Indian Premier League, with cricket chiefs from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan attending the IPL final in India’s Ahmedabad and holding a discussion on the matter.
Eventually, the ACC said in a statement today, “We are delighted to announce that the Asia Cup 2023 will be held from August 31 to September 17, 2023 and will see the elite teams from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Nepal, compete in a total of 13 exciting ODI (One-Day International) matches.
“The tournament will be hosted in a hybrid model with four matches being held in Pakistan, and the remaining nine matches being played in Sri Lanka.”
According to a PCB statement, India will not be playing any of its matches in Pakistan.
“Our passionate fans would have loved to see the India cricket team in action in Pakistan for the first time in 15 years, but we understand the BCCI’s position. Like the PCB, the BCCI also requires government approval and clearance before crossing borders,” the statement quoted PCB Management Committee Chair Najam Sethi as saying.
The statement said hosting Asia Cup in the coming months “will be the first time since 2008 that matches of a multi-nation cricket tournament will be staged in Pakistan”.
Fifteen years ago, Pakistan had successfully delivered the six-team ACC Asia Cup 50-over tournament, it added.
According to the statement, Sethi thanked the ACC for accepting the hybrid-model proposal, saying: “I am elated that our hybrid version for the ACC Asia Cup 2023 has been accepted. This means the PCB will remain as the event host and stage matches in Pakistan with Sri Lanka as the neutral venue, which was required due to the Indian cricket team’s inability to travel to Pakistan.”
He added that in the given scenario, the hybrid model was the “best solution and that’s precisely why I advocated for it so strongly”.
“The acceptance of the hybrid model means the event will take place as originally planned, the ACC will stay together and united, and the great game of cricket will continue to thrive and move forward in what will be interesting and exciting times for the subcontinent cricket fans in the coming 20 months,” he added.
He went on to say that in the past 15 months, the PCB had delivered high-profile bilateral series as well as two immensely successful HBL Pakistan Super League events in which some of the world’s leading cricketers participated and “enjoyed Pakistan’s outstanding arrangements and unprecedented hospitality”.
“We look forward to providing a similar experience to the participating sides in the ACC Asia Cup, which will be a prelude to the ICC Champions Trophy in Pakistan in February/March 2025.
“I now look forward to continuing our discussions and deliberations with the ACC and Sri Lanka Cricket to iron out a few minor operational and logistical details so that we can launch our event planning and preparations,” Sethi said.
He also assured that the PCB, as the event’s host, “will not leave any stone unturned in the successful delivery of the event that is so very critical to the sides featuring in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in October/November in India”.
“I appreciate the efforts of ACC President Jay Shah to strengthen the council so that we can collectively continue to protect each other’s interests and also provide opportunities and platforms to emerging Asian nations,” he added.