PCB chief Najam Sethi has on Friday proposed that India can play their Asia Cup matches at a neutral venue while Pakistan and other competing teams play in the host country, while adding that the proposal was sent to the Asian Cricket Council (ACC)
Team Pakistan (Pic Courtesy: AFP)
PCB chief Najam Sethi has on Friday proposed that India can play their Asia Cup matches at a neutral venue while Pakistan and other competing teams play in the host country, while adding that the proposal was sent to the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had refused to travel to Pakistan due to political tension between the two nations and demanded the shifting of the continental tournament to a neutral venue.
"We have decided on this hybrid model that Pakistan plays its Asia Cup matches at home and India their matches at a neutral venue and that is our proposal to the Asian Cricket Council," said Sethi.
The Asia Cup, involving six teams, will be played from September 2 to 17, though the exact schedule of matches is yet to be announced due to uncertainty over the venue. Besides Pakistan and India, the other competing countries are Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and one team which will emerge from the ACC qualifiers. The qualifying tournament is underway in Nepal.
Sethi hoped that the visit of his country's foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari next month to Goa for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's (SCO) Council meeting will help thaw relations between the two nations.
"We have been told that, maybe, the ice will keep on melting. If this happens when the Champions Trophy is held in Pakistan in 2025, India would consider playing in Pakistan. We have been advised to play the Asia Cup at a neutral venue and also go to India for the World Cup," said Sethi, without mentioning who has advised them.
Sethi indicated the public mood in his country is that Pakistan should play cricket with India on level terms. "Our government has imposed no restrictions about playing against India. But I can say right now that public mood is, we are not needy and we can stand on our own feet financially and we want to play cricket with India honourably. We are also negotiating with the ACC."
The PCB chairman, however, did not specify who in the government was advising the PCB on the issue. Sethi said that if Pakistan decides to shift all India matches in the Asia Cup to a neutral venue, the neighbours should also apply the same hybrid experiment during the 50-over World Cup in October-November this year. India are hosting the World Cup and there is talk across the border that Pakistan's matches be moved to neutral venues.
"We feel this hybrid experiment can also be applied when it is time for the World Cup. Our stance is that everything should be on a reciprocal basis. In the old times, yes there were security issues in Pakistan. But now there are no issues, so what is India's excuse for not playing in Pakistan," he added.
(With PTI inputs)