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News

PCB could pull out of 2023 Asia Cup if tournament is moved out of Pakistan

The venue for next year's tournament is uncertain because of India's position that they won't travel to Pakistan

The India and Pakistan men's teams played each other three times at neutral locations - Dubai and Melbourne - this year  •  Getty Images/ICC

The India and Pakistan men's teams played each other three times at neutral locations - Dubai and Melbourne - this year  •  Getty Images/ICC

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja has said that Pakistan may consider pulling out of the 2023 Asia Cup if their hosting rights are withdrawn on account of India not travelling to the country.
"It's not as if we don't have hosting rights and we're pleading to host it," Ramiz said on the sidelines of the Pakistan-England Test in Rawalpindi. "We won the rights fair and square. If India doesn't come, they won't come. If the Asia Cup gets taken away from Pakistan, maybe we're the ones that pull out."
In October, BCCI secretary Jay Shah, who is also the Asian Cricket Council president, had said after the Indian board's annual general meeting that "the Asia Cup 2023 will be held at a neutral venue" because India couldn't travel to Pakistan. A couple of days after Shah's comments, India's sports minister Anurag Thakur, who is a former BCCI president, said India's travel to Pakistan would depend on advice from the country's home ministry.
India's last trip to Pakistan was in 2008, for the Asia Cup, while Pakistan last came to India for the 2016 T20 World Cup. Owing to strained political relations, there has been no bilateral cricket between the countries since Pakistan toured India in 2012-13 for a white-ball series, and the teams have only played each other at ACC and ICC events. They played each other twice during the 2022 Asia Cup in the UAE and once in the T20 World Cup in Melbourne in October.
"We've shown we can host great teams," Ramiz said. "I can understand issues relating to bilateral cricket, but the Asia Cup is a multi-nation tournament, almost as big as the World Cup for the Asian bloc.
"Why give it to us in the first place and then make all those statements about India not travelling to Pakistan? I accept that India won't come because the government won't allow them to come - fine. But to take the Asia Cup away from the host on that basis isn't right."
Ramiz said that moving next year's Asia Cup from Pakistan to a neutral venue would be "caving in" to political circumstances, and that efforts should be made to play bilaterally and in both countries.
"Common sense," Ramiz told BBC's Test Match Special, when asked what it would take for India to play in Pakistan. "There is no contest if India and Pakistan are not playing. I have mentioned it so many times. I have always been loved in India; I've done so many IPL editions [as a commentator]. I know the fans want to see India against Pakistan.
"You saw what happened in the World Cup - 90,000 fans turned up [at MCG]. I am just a little disappointed with the ICC. When the point was put to the FIFA president why is the US playing Iran, Iran has so many issues regarding women's rights, he picked up the football and said this can solve a lot of issues. Through sport we can take care of the tribe mentality. I feel let bat and ball talk."
The timing of this issue has the potential to snowball into something bigger, especially with the next men's ICC global tournament - the 50-over World Cup - set to be held in India in October-November 2023. Pakistan have already raised the possibility of pulling out if the Asia Cup is moved out of Pakistan.
"What happens if the government of Pakistan doesn't allow Pakistan to travel to India because of security issues?" Ramiz said when asked if he was worried about the ramifications of a pull out. "It is quite an emotional subject here. The debate was started by BCCI in a way. We had to respond. Test cricket needs India v Pakistan."