Tuesday, May 16, 2023
ISLAMABAD: In a positive development, Pakistan has won over two important members of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) — Bangladesh and Sri Lanka — who have expressed willingness to support its “hybrid model” presented by the board for the Asia Cup 2023 to address Indian concerns.
Bilateral cricket has been a casualty of the soured political relations between India and Pakistan over the last decade and the neighbouring countries now play each other only in multi-team events in neutral venues.
India, citing safety concerns, have ruled out travelling to Pakistan for the Asia Cup in September and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has offered to let them play their matches in the United Arab Emirates.
While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has yet to deliver a formal response to the offer, PCB authorities believed that India wanted the entire tournament moved out of Pakistan.
The PCB has been making hectic efforts to convince all the ACC members to agree to its proposal.
Sources told Geo News that Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have approved the hybrid model while ACC President Jay Shah is ready to assess the proposal in an official meeting within two days in Dubai.
According to the sources, Shah, who is also the secretary of the BCCI, has called an official meeting with ACC board members to discuss PCB's hybrid model to host Asia Cup.
After this unofficial huddle, an official meeting of the council is most likely to be called by the end of this month to decide the future of the Asian event.
Pakistan has offered two options in 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 Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have agreed on the second option.
In case of its acceptance, Pakistan will play their group match against Nepal at home. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, who are placed in group 2, will also play their group-stage matches in Pakistan.
Overall, Pakistan will host four matches before the league moves to a neutral venue which will be decided mutually.
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.