The ever-resistant India has been left with less options regarding its participation in the upcoming regional cricketing event, Asia Cup 2023, as four major teams have agreed to Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) hybrid model.
After Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal have also agreed to support Pakistan’s “hybrid model” to host the tournament, sources said.
This year, Pakistan is hosting Asia Cup in September but India is not willing to tour the arch-rival country, citing security concerns due to the strained diplomatic ties. Bilateral cricket has been a casualty of the soured relations between Pakistan and India over the last decade and the neighbouring countries now play each other only in multi-team events in neutral venues.
Keeping India’s concerns in view, PCB has proposed a “hybrid model” allowing the neighbouring country to play their matches in the United Arab Emirates.
While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is yet to deliver a formal response to the offer, PCB authorities believed that India wanted the entire tournament to be moved out of Pakistan.
PCB has been making hectic efforts to convince all the ACC members to agree to its proposal. Pakistan has offered two options in the hybrid model.
The hybrid model
In the first option, India will play their matches at a neutral venue whereas all other matches will be played in Pakistan.
In another option, four matches of the group stage in the first phase will take place in Pakistan whereas the second phase, in which matches of the Indian team followed by the next stage matches including the final, will be played at a neutral venue.
The sources told Geo News that the cricket boards of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal have agreed on the second option, according to which these teams will play their group matches in Pakistan, before the league moves to a neutral venue which will be decided mutually.
However, a deadlock over whether to host the second phase in Sri Lanka or Dubai persists as all countries except for Pakistan favour holding the event in the South Asian country.
PCB wants UAE to be the neutral venue as it ensures gate money will go into their account. However, two cities in Sri Lanka, Dambulla and Pallekele, can also be considered neutral venues.
The consent of four major teams and the strong stance presented by PCB chief Najam Sethi before Asian Cricket Council (ACC) has put India in a tight spot, sources said.
They said that making a decision in regard with India’s participation in Asia Cup 2023 has become an uphill task for BCCI and ACC as there are very few options left.
The sources said the ACC vice-president who met Sethi has informed ACC President Jay Shah about the details of the meeting.
They said that it was possible now that India conditions Pakistan to tour the country for World Cup in exchange for agreeing to the hybrid model. This will lead the PCB to consult with the government, they added.
The sources further stated that Jay Shah can also seek the authorities’ opinion on Asia Cup 2023 on the occasion of BCCI’s special meeting. They said that the matters related to World Cup and Asia Cup are facing delays due to Shah’s engagements in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).
As per sources, PCB is awaiting India’s decision regarding Asia Cup in the coming week, after which Pakistan will decide on its mode of participation in the World Cup.
It may be noted that Pakistan has not given a green signal on visiting India to participate in the mega event.