Zaka Ashraf (L) speaks to the media as Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination Ehsan-ur-Rehman Mazari looks on at the ministry’s office on Wednesday. —Tanveer Shahzad/White Star
Zaka Ashraf (L) speaks to the media as Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination Ehsan-ur-Rehman Mazari looks on at the ministry’s office on Wednesday. —Tanveer Shahzad/White Star

ISLAMABAD: Terming the hybrid model approved for this year’s Asia Cup “injustice”, Zaka Ashraf on Wednesday said he will try to have it reviewed on becoming Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman.

“The first point is that I had rejected the hybrid model [for Asia Cup] in the past itself because I do not agree with it. The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) board had decided that the tournament should be held entirely in Pakistan. However, major matches are [being] held elsewhere, and only minor teams like Nepal will play in Pakistan. Injustice has been done to Pakistan,” Zaka, who is likely to return as PCB chairman, said while talking to media in Islamabad.

“Being the hosts, the complete event [Asia Cup] should take place in Pakistan.”

While Zaka’s election to the top position in the PCB is expected as he was appointed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to the PCB Board of Governors, the election itself is yet to take place.

Zaka, 70, said that he would try to make changes to the Asia Cup scheduled to be staged from Aug 31 to Sept 17 in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

“I don’t know what decision the previous management took as I don’t have access to the information regarding it. I will go and see, and try to do what is in the best interest of Pakistan within the shortest possible time,” he said.

“There are many pending issues, and I am not delving deep into the matter since I haven’t officially taken over,” he added, noting that he looked to engage with the Indian leadership.

While no official comments were made by any BCCI official or that of the ACC regarding Zaka’s statements, it appears highly unlikely that further modifications will be made to the hybrid model at this stage.

As per the model, four games are scheduled to be staged in Pakistan and nine in Sri Lanka, which the PCB Interim Management Committee under Najam Sethi had agreed upon.

Sethi had proposed the hybrid model after the BCCI refused to send its team to Pakistan for the continental event citing non-approval by the Indian government.

Meanwhile talking to the media alongside Zaka, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ehsan Ur Rehman Mazari said that the PCB election commissioner would be looking after the affairs of the PCB till the election of the new chairman.

“Every effort will be made to hold the elections before Eid-ul-Azha. It is clear that Zaka will be the new PCB chief, following its elections,” the IPC minister said.

To a question, he said India was politicising cricket by not allowing its team to tour Pakistan.

“India should leave its stubbornness and play cricket in Pakistan. Personally, I believe that if India does not come to Pakistan, then Pakistan should also not visit them. If India chooses to play at a neutral venue then Pakistan should also do the same.”

Ehsan said that the PCB Interim Management Committee’s term had ended on the night of June 19, and the decisions taken by it after that had no status.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2023

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