Pakistan News

PCB awaits ACC meeting amid reports of Asia Cup pullout

KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board is still waiting for the Asian Cricket Council to call-up its executive committee meeting to decide the fate of the Asia Cup with the tournament now just two months away. Reports in the Indian media, however, suggest a decision has already been made outside the offices.

After the PCB had proposed the “hybrid model” — which would see Pakistan, the rightful hosts of the Asia Cup, hold the tournament’s first-round matches, excluding those involving India at home before the competition moves to a neutral venue where the latter would feature — there has been no development on the matter at the official level.

But a report published by the Press Trust of India news agency on Tuesday claimed the PCB was left with no option but to either play the Asia Cup in its entirety at a venue other than Pakistan or to withdraw from the tournament — which the board had already established as its reaction in case the “hybrid model” is turned down.

The PTI report said that key ACC members Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, have “all backed the BCCI’s (Board of Control for Cricket in India) push for moving the tournament out of Pakistan”.

The “push” in question is the one that BCCI secretary and ACC president Jay Shah’s had reportedly made on the sidelines of the Indian Premier League final on May 27 in the presence of Afghanistan Cricket Board and Sri Lanka Cricket representatives.

According to reports, the SLC is ready to host the Asia Cup if it is officially moved out of Pakistan and its bid is being backed by other members including the BCCI.

The PCB, Dawn understands, however is in possession of the agreements by ACC members other than India of “having no problems” with the hybrid-model or playing in Pakistan. The said members have also not made any official communication to the PCB about their reported change of mind.

It has also been reported that the PCB has turned down Sri Lanka’s offer for a three-match One-day International series around Pakistan’s two-Test tour to the country in July.

If, according to what the reports claim, the “hybrid model” is not accepted, that could see the PCB withdraw the Pakistan team from the upcoming World Cup, which is to be played in October-November in India.

The problem could extend to the 2025 ICC Champions Trophy, the hosting rights of which were awarded to Pakistan two years ago. The BCCI, once again due to pressure from its central government, may well refuse to travel across the border.

The issue came under discussion between the PCB’s top officials including the board’s interim Management Commi­ttee chairman Najam Sethi with the International Cricket Council’s chairman Greg Barclay and the body’s chief executive Geoff Allardice, during their two-day visit to the PCB headquarters in Lahore last week.

The PCB’s press release after the meetings, however, covered general aspects as expected. But according to sources, the board has asked for the ICC’s assurance over India’s participation in the Champions Trophy.

The global cricket governing body, however, has maintained silence over the matter despite several approaches by Dawn.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2023

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