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Asia Cup 2023 likely to be moved out of Pakistan as the Indian team won’t travel to the country, final decision in March

As the Asia Cup 2023 is unlikely to be held in Pakistan due to refusal of India to participate, the tournament may be held in UAE with Pakistan acting as the host

On February 4, Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Chairman and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jay Shah categorically told Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chief Najam Sethi that Indian Cricket Team cannot travel to Pakistan for Asian Cup 2023 that is scheduled to take place in Pakistan. The matter of the upcoming Asia Cup was discussed in an ACC meeting held in Bahrain on Saturday. As a result of India refusing to travel to Pakistan, the tournament may be shifted out of Pakistan.

BCCI has said that India can’t participate in the Asia Cup in Pakistan as the government of India has not permitted the Indian team to travel to Pakistan. In the meeting of the Asian Cricket Council which was held in Bahrain on Saturday, the venue for the Asian Cup 2023 was not finalised. However, ACC confirmed that the tournament will be held in September 2023.

The meeting in Bahrain was attended by ACC chief Jay Shah, Pakistan Cricket Board chief Najam Sethi and representatives of the member nations. Five Asian cricket teams are part of the Asia cup: India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Sri Lanka won the last Asian cup in 2022 held in UAE.

The final decision on if Pakistan will host the tournament or not will be taken in another meeting to be held in March 2023. In most probability, Asia Cup 2023 will be held at a neutral venue that will be decided next month around the International Cricket Council (ICC) meetings.

ACC said in a statement after the meeting, “the ACC had a constructive dialogue on the upcoming Asia Cup 2023. The Board agreed to continue discussions on operations, timelines and any other specifics with a view to ensuring the success of the tournament. An update on the matter would be taken on the next ACC Executive Board Meeting to be held in March 2023.” 

Reportedly, BCCI is confident that the tournament will be moved out of Pakistan. Sources say that the BCCI officials believe there is little to no chance of the Asia Cup being held in Pakistan.

ESPN Cricinfo reported that Sethi informed Shah that if the Indian team refuse to play in Pakistan, the Pakistani team will not consider playing in India for the Cricket World Cup 2023. Depending on the March 2023 meetings, the fate of the Asia Cup, World Cup and Champion’s Trophy (2025) will be decided. Two of the three tournaments are scheduled to take place in Pakistan and one in India. The final decision from the Pakistani side will be on the government.

Notably, Pakistan was isolated from hosting international tournaments since the attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore in 2009. For the last three years, Pakistan has started hosting international tournaments but India is yet to visit the hostile neighbour. Over the years consistent terrorist activities from the other side of the border have been strictly dealt with by the Indian government by strategically isolating Pakistan on multiple fronts. Cricket tournaments between the two countries have been limited to ICC and ACC events. Notably, India’s cricket team has not played any match in Pakistan since 2008. Pakistani team visited India for the last time for T20 World Cup 2016.

Actually, Pakistan was to host the Asia Cup in 2020, but as India refused to travel to Pakistan at that time also, Pakistan said they were willing to let Sri Lanka host the tournament. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 tournament was postponed to 2021, to be held in Sri Lanka. But due to various reasons, including the clash of schedule with the World Test Championship in which India had qualified, the 2021 event was then postponed to 2022.

However, as Sri Lanka was hit by a massive financial crisis, it expressed its inability to host the tournament, and it was shifted to UAE. Giving away the right to host the tournament to Sri Lanka, Pakistan retained the right to host the Asia Cup in 2023. But now it is again in jeopardy with India refusing to visit the country.

The financial condition of Pakistan and Asia Cup hosting

Another aspect of the upcoming Asia Cup 2023 hosting is that in the last few months, the Pakistani rupee has fallen to an all-time low making it difficult for the PCB to pay for the Asia Cup. Currently, the Pakistani rupee is trading at over PKR 277 per USD and if the tournament is hosted in Pakistan, it will put a considerable hole in PCB’s pocket.

UAE may host Asia Cup

As per reports, three venues in the United Arab Emirates that are Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah could be selected for the Asia Cup 2023. Notably, even if the tournament shifts to a neutral location, Pakistan is expected to retain the hosting rights. Last year, Sri Lanka acted as hosts even though the tournament was held in UAE.

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