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News

India won't travel to Pakistan for 2023 Asia Cup

The tournament is likely to be moved out of Pakistan, according to BCCI secretary and Asian Cricket Council president Jay Shah

Nagraj Gollapudi and S Sudarshanan
18-Oct-2022
The Indian men's team has not played in Pakistan since the 2008 Asia Cup  •  ACC

The Indian men's team has not played in Pakistan since the 2008 Asia Cup  •  ACC

India will not travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup in 2023, raising questions as to where the tournament might now be held. The development occurred on the day of the BCCI's annual general meeting in Mumbai, where BCCI secretary Jay Shah, who is also the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) president, suggested that next year's Asia Cup would have to be played at a different venue.
"The Asia Cup 2023 will be held at a neutral venue," Shah told media after the BCCI's AGM. "I am saying this as ACC President. We [India] can't go there [to Pakistan], they can't come here. In the past also, Asia Cup has been played at a neutral venue." The new set of BCCI office bearers - the president Roger Binny, treasurer Ashish Shelar and Rajiv Shukla, who was re-elected as board vice-president - were present when Shah spoke to the media.
The ACC has not yet met to discuss the matter, let alone for a decision to be officially taken. That has raised questions within the PCB as to which capacity Shah was speaking in on the matter and why he chose to do so at a BCCI AGM. A PCB spokesperson said the board would not be commenting on the matter at this stage but a robust response is not out of the question: there is, for instance, already talk within the board of leaving the ACC. The PCB is expected to write to the ACC about the comments.
Shah's comments could also hold some implication for ICC events, two of which are to be held in India and Pakistan over the next couple of years. India are set to host the 2023 ODI World Cup soon after the Asia Cup and then Pakistan are scheduled to host the 2025 Champions Trophy. If India cannot play in Pakistan and likewise, Pakistan cannot in India, it remains to be seen what impact it has on those tournaments. At the 2016 T20 World Cup, in India, Pakistan required their government's approval to travel to India and got it only at the last minute. The ICC is unlikely to comment on the issue at the moment.
India's last trip to Pakistan was for the 2008 Asia Cup, while Pakistan's last visit to India was for that 2016 ICC event. Due to strained political relations between the two countries, they have not played any bilateral cricket since Pakistan toured India for a white-ball only series in 2012-13.
India and Pakistan last played each other at the 2022 Asia Cup in UAE in August-September this year, and are due to face off in the T20 World Cup in Melbourne on October 23. The atmosphere leading into that game will no doubt be a little more tense now. Within the PCB at least there is unhappiness with the comments, not least that Shah said this in the aftermath of a BCCI AGM, which he presided over as board secretary, having effectively bypassed the ACC as a body.
Such a decision, an official said, cannot be made without it being discussed at ACC board level. Indeed, after a meeting in March this year - under Shah's ACC presidency - it was confirmed that Pakistan would be hosting the Asia Cup. But there is enough unhappiness within the board to contemplate pulling out of the ACC altogether as a member, a body that was set up in the mid-80s - ironically - to ensure productive relations between Asian members.
It hasn't quite worked out that way. Both India and Pakistan have in the past pulled out of previous editions of the Asia Cup and the tournament itself has been cancelled on occasion because of poor ties between India and Pakistan. The last two editions were played in the UAE, which has hosted the tournament four times altogether.
The topic of traveling to Pakistan for Asia Cup came up for discussion at the BCCI AGM, where members were told that a decision would be taken based on permission from the Indian government. That point was reiterated by Shukla during an informal chat with the media afterwards. It was at this point that Shah said that India would not be travelling to Pakistan.
The BCCI did not hold a formal media briefing, as has been the way in the past. On Tuesday, journalists were told that the office bearers would have an informal chat with the media. Before the chat, the media was asked to submit their phones and instead given notepads.