India won’t travel to Pakistan for 2023 Asia Cup

Asia Cup 2023
Asia Cup 2023

In 2023, India will not travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup, raising the question of where it might be held instead. During the BCCI’s annual general meeting in Mumbai, BCCI secretary Jay Shah, who is also the president of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), suggested that next year’s Asia Cup be played at a different venue.

After the BCCI’s AGM, Shah told media that the Asia Cup will be held at a neutral venue. In my capacity as ACC President, I say: “We [India] cannot go there, they cannot come here. Asia Cup has always been played at a neutral venue.” When Shah spoke to the media, the BCCI office bearers – the president Roger Binny, the treasurer Ashish Shelar, and Rajiv Shukla, who was re-elected as vice-president – were present.

As of yet, the ACC has not met to discuss the matter, let alone to make an official decision. As a result, the PCB has been wondering which capacity Shah was speaking in and why he chose to speak at the BCCI AGM in that capacity. According to a spokesperson for the PCB, the board will not be commenting on the matter at this stage, but a robust response is not out of the question: the board has already discussed leaving the ACC.

A couple of ICC events of Asia Cup 2023 are scheduled to take place in India and Pakistan over the next few years, so Shah’s comments could also have some implications. In 2023, India will host the ODI World Cup and in 2025, Pakistan will host the Champions Trophy. The impact of India’s inability to play in Pakistan and Pakistan’s inability to play in India remains to be seen. Pakistan had to wait until the last minute to get their government’s approval to travel to India for the 2016 T20 World Cup. At the moment, the ICC is unlikely to comment on the issue.

Pakistan visited India for the 2016 ICC event, while India visited Pakistan for the 2008 Asia Cup. In 2012-13, Pakistan toured India for a white-ball only series due to strained political relations between the two countries.

In August-September this year, India and Pakistan faced each other at the 2022 Asia Cup in UAE, and they will face each other again on October 23 at the T20 World Cup in Melbourne. There will no doubt be a little more tension leading up to that game. Certainly, there is unhappiness within the PCB about Shah’s comments, not least because he made them after a BCCI AGM he presided over as board secretary, bypassing the ACC.

According to an official, such a decision cannot be made without ACC board discussion. As a result of Shah’s ACC presidency in March this year, Pakistan was confirmed to host the Asia Cup. However, there is enough unhappiness within the board to consider pulling out of the ACC altogether, a body founded in the mid-80s to ensure productive relations between Asian nations.

That hasn’t quite worked out. Due to poor relations between India and Pakistan, both India and Pakistan have pulled out of previous editions of the Asia Cup and the tournament itself has been cancelled. UAE has hosted the tournament four times in total, including the last two editions.

India’s participation in the Asia Cup in Pakistan came up for discussion at the AGM, and the members were told that a decision would be made based on Indian government permission. In an informal chat with the media, Shukla reiterated that point. In this context, Shah pointed out that India would not be visiting Pakistan.

It was interesting that the BCCI did not hold a formal media briefing, which has been a regular occurrence in the past. Journalists were told on Tuesday that office bearers would speak with them informally. The media was asked to submit their phones before the chat and instead given a notepad to jot down points.

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