Najam Sethi, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief, has said that the board has been advised to host the upcoming Asia Cup 2023 at a neutral venue to build trust between Pakistan and India and go to the neighbouring country for the ODI World Cup later this year in an attempt to thaw the ice between the two nations.
India and Pakistan do not play bilateral cricket since 2012-13, and India last travelled to Pakistan for the 2008 edition of the Asia Cup. Then the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks put a halt on the bilateral series between the two sides, which resumed in 2004, and since then, the two sides only play in ACC events and ICC tournaments only.
In 2018, India was to host the Asia Cup in ODI format, but Pakistan refused to travel to India, citing security concerns, and hence the BCCI hosted the tournament in UAE. A similar situation has occurred this year as Pakistan is to host the Asia Cup in 2023, and the BCCI has announced that the Indian team will not travel to Pakistan.
Hence, Sethi said in a press conference, that PCB has proposed a hybrid model to the ACC where India will play its Asia Cup matches at a neutral venue, while Pakistan and other teams play in Pakistan.
“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 to Cricket Pakistan.
Sethi expressed that the dominant sentiment among the public in Pakistan is that they should engage in cricket matches with India on an equal footing.
“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 honorably. We are also negotiating with the ACC,” he said.
Sethi also said that he upcoming visit of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the foreign minister of Pakistan, to Goa, India for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) Council meeting next month, will help thaw the relations between the two countries and maybe India might come to Pakistan in 2025 for the ICC Champions Trophy.
“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. Hence, we are being advised to play the Asia Cup at a neutral venue and also go to India for the World Cup,” he revealed.
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