PCB official proposes hybrid Asia Cup to allow Pakistan and India to play at neutral venue

Najam Sethi met with members of the Asian Cricket Council in the UAE this week to work out a solution

India and Pakistan have played each other in recent internationals but only at neutral locations, including the rescheduled T20 World Cup in 2021 in the UAE. AFP
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The head of the Pakistan Cricket Board's management committee, Najam Sethi, has proposed a hybrid model of hosting the majority of the Asia Cup at a neutral venue to solve the "logjam" between Pakistan and India.

Pakistan, India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal are due to compete in the Asia Cup, which is seen as a major tune-up for the teams due to participate in the World Cup in India.

The Asia Cup is scheduled to be held in Pakistan in September, although India have made it clear they are resistant to competing in the nation because of political tensions between the two countries.

“Until India is ready to play Pakistan bilaterally and in Pakistan, let’s have a hybrid solution,” said Sethi, who met with the members of the Asian Cricket Council in the UAE this week to work out a solution.

Sethi’s suggested model to end the impasse would mean India could play Pakistan at a neutral venue in major tournaments like the Champions Trophy and even the World Cup, while the remaining matches are played in the host nation as scheduled.

After India host the World Cup later this year, Pakistan is due to host the Champions Trophy in 2025.

“I am concerned about not just the Asia Cup but also the World Cup and the Champions Trophy,” Sethi said. “The World Cup will be in India … my government might turn around to me and say we have security issues there, you don’t go.

“And then the Champions Trophy following the World Cup, which we are hosting. India might turn around and say the same thing. We are not going to play in Pakistan and ask the ICC to shift the venue … this is not going to work. What I am proposing is the way out of this logjam.”

Sethi has reportedly even suggested that Pakistan hosts only four games of the Asia Cup while the remaining 13 games can be staged at a neutral venue, which would most likely be in the UAE. He is even willing to host the final at a neutral venue even if Pakistan qualify for it against India or any other nation.

Sethi said he wanted an amicable solution for the Asia Cup, which could pave the way for both nations to compete against each other in other major tournaments at a neutral venue.

“I have not been threatening anybody, give me a break,” Sethi said. “I am trying to be positive and find a way out of this problem. I could have easily said that if India is not going to come and play in Pakistan, we will not play in India, but I tried to find a hybrid model.”

Sethi hoped ACC president Jay Shah, who is also secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, could take the first step and accept Pakistan’s hybrid model for the Asia Cup and keep all the Asian nations united.

“I think Jay (Shah) is a young man, he aspires to be the head of the ICC,” Sethi said. “My advice to my young friend would be if you want to be a leader, you have to keep the herd together, keep the flock together.

“Don’t let it be said that when you were in the chair in the ACC, the ACC broke up.”

Updated: May 14, 2023, 12:19 PM