Decision on Asia Cup venue to be finalised in two weeks, says Najam Sethi

“Since Asia Cup will help teams prepare for World Cup, an early settlement to pending issue is important,” sources say

By
Abdul Mohi Shah
Najam Sethi speaks during a press conference — PCB
Najam Sethi speaks during a press conference — PCB

ISLAMABAD: Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Management Committee (MC) Najam Sethi has shared that the decision regarding the venue of the upcoming Asia Cup 2023 is expected within the next two weeks, The News reported on Thursday.

“Nothing has been finalised as yet. We will have a decision on the Asia Cup within the next two weeks,” Sethi said in response to this correspondent's query while boarding a plane to London for a medical check-up.

The decision on the Asia Cup cricket venue is to be taken within the next two weeks as all the member countries are currently busy weighing their options and priorities. 

Sethi spent busy days in the UAE, making efforts to convince members of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) of Pakistan’s right to host the event and pushing the PCB's hybrid model.

Sources privy to these meetings confirmed that the majority of the member countries wanted an amicable and timely solution to the issue since the tournament holds great importance because of its timing. 

“Since the Asia Cup will help teams prepare for the World Cup, an early settlement to the pending issue is all the more important,” the sources said. 

Pakistan has already made it clear that if India preferred to play Asia Cup at a neutral venue (hybrid model), Pakistan would have no option but to follow the same pattern for the World Cup.

"If India decides against playing in Pakistan then Pakistan won’t play in India regardless of whether it is an ACC or an ICC event. The 2025 Champions Trophy could well see the same hybrid version and so on as long as India sticks to its position,” a highly placed source said.

The member countries including India are expected to come up with a clear stance on the Asia Cup participation within two weeks. 

The PCB has also reiterated its earlier stance that if the hybrid model was not acceptable to the ACC and if any suggestions to relocate the event are made, then the PCB will withdraw from the competition.

“The PCB is very clear on the Asia Cup. It is Pakistan’s right to host the Cup and if any attempts are made to take the event away, Pakistan will not participate in any such exercise. 

However, to safeguard the interest of the competition and the participating countries, the PCB has proposed a hybrid model in which some India matches could be rescheduled offshore," said the source.

The PCB MC chairman also met ICC officials. ICC sources confirmed that neither the World Cup 2023 schedule has been finalised nor Pakistan has given any undertaking to the ICC about touring India.

“During the meeting at the ICC Headquarters on Tuesday, Najam Sethi’s discussions with the ICC were around the hybrid model and how this can resolve future challenges without affecting the ICC .”

“Najam Sethi firmly presented Pakistan’s strong case to host the Asia Cup 2023 in a hybrid version, which allows India to play its matches at a neutral venue. ACC officials assured the PCB no decision as regards relocating the Asia Cup has been made, and that all media stories in this regard were speculative and baseless,” an ACC source also confirmed.

He further added that Najam Sethi shared the revised hybrid version with the ACC officials, which primarily addressed the travel, logistical and broadcast concerns.

“Najam Sethi reminded ACC officials that the BCB and SLC, in separate emails to the ACC, have already expressed their willingness to play first round matches in Pakistan.”

It has been learnt that PCB has rejected the members’ argument that due to heat matches cannot be played in the UAE, reminding the 2018 Asia Cup was held from 15-28 Sept, 2020 IPL was held from 19 Sep-10 Nov and 2022 Asia Cup was played from 27 Aug-11 Sep.