BCCI-PCB in talks for a hybrid model for Asia Cup
If BCCI softens its stand, the tournament could stay in Pakistan with India’s matches and the final shifting to a neutral venue
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been publicly pushing for the Asia Cup to moved out of Pakistan but it has now emerged that the Indian board may be amenable to softening their stand.
If ongoing talks between the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the BCCI bear fruit, the Asia Cup could be played in a hybrid-model, with India’s matches including the India-Pakistan contests being moved to a neutral venue; the rest of the tournament would stay in Pakistan. If the two nations qualify for the final, it would again be played at a neutral venue.
“There has been some progress in bilateral talks between the two cricket boards on sidelines of the International Cricket Council (ICC) quarterly meet in Dubai, last week,” said an official familiar with the developments.
Sri Lanka, UAE, Oman and Bangladesh are under consideration as potential neutral venues. With the multination Asian competition to be played in the month of September, the heat in UAE and the rain in Sri Lanka could become a hindrance.
A BCCI offical has separately confirmed that ‘the proposal is being considered’ before adding that a final call was yet to be taken.
Earlier, the BCCI had been insisting that the entire tournament be relocated to a neutral venue because the Indian players would not get government permission to travel to Pakistan for safety reasons.
On Monday, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur had told reporters: “Let the BCCI take a call on Indian team's participation in Asia Cup first, then only the sports ministry and home ministry will decide.”
The PCB, in its talks with the BCCI, has been playing hardball, linking the Asia Cup with the year-ending ODI World Cup to be played in India. Their contention being that even Pakistan’s World Cup matches should be moved out of India to a neutral venue.
One understands the BCCI wants the entire World Cup to be played in India and has assured that visas and complete security would be granted to Pakistani players.
If the Asia Cup hybrid model finds acceptance, that could become a solution for the 2025 Champions trophy too, for which Pakistan have been awarded hosting rights. But sources are quick to add that it may be too early to comment on with India going to polls in 2024.
India and Pakistan have been grouped together along with a qualifier in the six-nation Asia Cup. The top two teams advance to the Super 4 phase, paving the way for the arch-rivals to meet again. The tournament is being played in a 50-overs format and would serve as ideal preparation for the World Cup to follow.