Will Asia Cup Take Place in Pakistan? | Asia Cup 2023: A Fiery Confrontation Unfolds as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh Reject PCB’s Hybrid Hosting Model
Will Asia Cup Take Place in Pakistan? Dubai was ablaze with tension as officials from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) engaged in intense discussions regarding the hosting of the highly anticipated 2023 Asia Cup. The PCB, determined to find a solution amidst the political turmoil between India and Pakistan, presented its innovative “hybrid” hosting model to the ACC.
However, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) swiftly raised objections, refusing to endorse the idea of splitting the tournament between Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Thus, a battle of wills ensued in the heart of Dubai, threatening the fate of the prestigious Asia Cup.
The PCB’s hybrid model aimed to address the glaring issue of India’s unwillingness to travel to Pakistan. Given the escalating political tensions between the two neighboring countries, India would play all their matches in the UAE, while the remaining fixtures would be held in Pakistan. On the surface, it appeared to be a pragmatic resolution, but the objections of the SLC and BCB painted a different picture.
Logistical challenges emerged as the primary concern for the SLC and BCB, who expressed apprehension about shuttling between Pakistan and another nation during the Asia Cup. The tournament, scheduled for September, would take place merely a month before the ODI World Cup, set to transpire across India. Moreover, the extreme heat that grips the UAE in the first half of September dissuaded both boards from considering it a viable option.
Mohan de Silva, the Secretary of SLC, voiced their dissent, emphasizing, “We have written to the ACC to say that we are against the hybrid model. But beyond that, no final decision has been reached. It’s very hot in the UAE at that time of year.” Such was the gravity of their objection that they explicitly rejected the notion of a hybrid model, seeking an alternative arrangement.
In a dramatic twist, a PCB official retaliated, divulging the existence of emails from the BCB and SLC that allegedly confirmed their agreement to play in Pakistan. This revelation further fueled the fiery confrontation between the cricketing boards. The official further highlighted that the previous year’s Asia Cup, held from August 27 to September 11, took place in the UAE—identical to the proposed window objected by the SLC and BCB. Additionally, the 2018 edition of the Asia Cup, a 50-over format, also unfolded in the UAE from September 15 to 28. These events had shifted to the UAE as alternative venues due to political and economic unrest in India and Sri Lanka, respectively.
Will Asia Cup Take Place in Pakistan?
Amidst the mounting tensions, one potential solution surfaced—the PCB could follow in the footsteps of the SLC. In the 2022 edition, Sri Lanka retained the hosting rights but opted to hold the tournament outside their country. Now, murmurs suggested that Sri Lanka could be the neutral venue for the Asia Cup, thereby satisfying the SLC’s aspirations. Mohan de Silva affirmed their readiness, stating, “If the offer is there to play the tournament in Sri Lanka, we will take it. Pakistan will be the official hosts.”
However, unyielding in their stance, the PCB staunchly defended its hybrid model, asserting that it catered to the needs and concerns of all parties involved. “The PCB presented a hybrid model that resolves issues of logistics and travel and production,” stated a determined PCB official. “The board reiterated its position that we won’t play the Asia Cup if the Pakistan plus neutral venue model is rejected.” The PCB adamantly believed in the feasibility of their proposal, vowing not to compromise on their vision.