PCB Chief expresses disappointment over India’s snug in Asia Cup and World Cup 2023

On Thursday, Najam Sethi, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, expressed his belief that India’s decision not to visit Pakistan for the Asia Cup would have consequences for upcoming ICC events in the area. Sethi proposed a new hybrid hosting format for the Asia Cup, which would involve relocating India’s matches away from Pakistan, and suggested that this could set a precedent for the 50-over World Cup scheduled to take place in India later this year, as well as the 2025 Champions Trophy in Pakistan.

Najam Sethi, in an interview with The Indian Express, proposed a potential solution to the political tension between India and Pakistan regarding cricket matches. He suggested that if India agrees to a neutral venue and adopts the hybrid model, then the same model can be used for the upcoming World Cup and Champions Trophy. Under this model, Pakistan can play their matches in Dhaka or any other venue that India agrees to, while all other countries can come and play in Pakistan. This would allow India to play at a neutral venue and potentially resolve the political impasse.

Sethi responded to reports indicating that the BCCI was considering holding the India-Pakistan World Cup match at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium. He remarked, “When I learned that the Pakistan game was scheduled for Ahmedabad, I chuckled and thought to myself, ‘this is a clever way to prevent us from visiting India.’ If they had chosen Chennai or Kolkata, it could have been reasonable.”

Sethi declined to delve into the political aspect of the matter, but implied that there may be political motivations at play, particularly given Ahmedabad’s potential security concerns. He suggested it would be best to avoid further discussion on the topic. The remark appeared to suggest that the issue was a distraction intended to intimidate the team, with the message being, “We’ll be playing in Ahmedabad, and you should be careful because we have control there.”

Sethi provided an update regarding the Asia Cup’s hosting during the recent Asian Cricket Council meeting in Bahrain. He stated that no final decision has been made yet, and they are waiting for feedback from the members regarding the proposed hybrid model. However, he mentioned that if the ACC pushes for a single-host model, Pakistan would opt-out.

The PCB Chairman stated that a decision regarding the venue for the Asia Cup has not been made yet, and it could potentially be held in the UAE, Sri Lanka, or another location. The primary concern at the moment is whether the proposed hybrid model will be accepted, and if the games will be played according to those rules. If the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) mandates that all matches must take place at a single venue, the speaker asserts that they will not participate in the tournament.

According to Sethi, he had pleasant interactions with the BCCI secretary Jay Shah, and they had lengthy discussions regarding cricket matches between India and Pakistan. Although they had a cordial relationship, Sethi expressed his disappointment in Shah’s lack of explanation for not playing in Pakistan. Shah would simply smile and avoid the topic by saying the situation was known and suggest they explore other solutions. As a result, Sethi came up with the hybrid model, which he acknowledges as a compromise.

The former journalist who now serves as a cricket administrator has suggested that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) must convince the Indian government to permit the team to travel to Pakistan. He highlighted that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) also faces a similar challenge, where they need to approach their government and persuade them to allow them to play in India. However, the government argues that it should be reciprocal, or else they will receive criticism from the critics in Pakistan. The cricket administrator believes that the BCCI should take a stand and request the government not to bring politics into the game and allow the team to visit Pakistan.