The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) proposes a hybrid model for the Asia Cup, suggesting four out of 13 matches take place in Pakistan, while the remaining games, including the final, occur at neutral venues, potentially in the UAE.
This proposal comes from the PCB’s head, Najam Sethi, who expressed his optimism to BBC’s Stumped podcast about the tournament taking place in Pakistan, despite objections from two Asian Cricket Council (ACC) members and India’s lack of clearance to visit Pakistan.
Sethi also proposes extending the hybrid model to the One-Day World Cup slated for later this year in India if it proves successful during the Asia Cup. He acknowledges the tense India-Pakistan relations, suggesting there’s a considerable chance Pakistan might not receive permission to travel to India.
Sethi met ACC officials in Dubai on Tuesday, advocating for the PCB’s compromise to address various concerns. The proposal includes playing four matches in Pakistan, then moving to a neutral venue.
Najam Sethi emphasizes the need for reciprocal arrangements, voicing concerns about India’s refusal to play in Pakistan and its potential to undermine the Asia Cup and the upcoming World Cup in India.
The PCB’s head warns that if India sabotages the hybrid model or fails to participate in Pakistan, his government might not authorize their visit to India for the World Cup.
However, the hybrid model and potential UAE leg face opposition from the cricket boards of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, citing logistic, operational, and heat concerns. Sethi argues that as the host, PCB reserves the right to choose the neutral venue. He notes that both the 2018 and 2022 Asia Cup editions took place in the UAE in September, dismissing the heat concern.
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Sethi expresses urgency, as the PCB requires three months for preparation. He recently met with a high-ranking ACC representative who found the proposal workable, and will now discuss it with BCCI secretary and ACC president Jay Shah.
Sethi has shown great concern that Pakistan might not participate in the World Cup if issues with the Asia Cup aren’t resolved. He suggests that the hybrid model, if successful in the Asia Cup, could also be used for the World Cup, with Pakistan’s games taking place in Bangladesh or the UAE.