Najam Sethi says PCB has offered to host Asia Cup matches involving India at neutral venues

The PCB has proposed that India can play its Asia Cup matches at a neutral venue, while Pakistan and other competing teams play in the host country, its chief Najam Sethi revealed on Friday.

Sethi said that he has sent a proposal to the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had refused to travel to Pakistan due to political tensions between the two countries and demanded the continental tournament be shifted to a neutral venue.

Sethi, a former cricketer-turned-PCB chairman, said, “We have decided on this hybrid model that Pakistan will play their Asia Cup matches at home and India at neutral venues and that is what we propose to the Asian Cricket Council.” ‘ Rameez Raja during the press conference.

The six-team Asia Cup will be played from September 2 to 17, though the exact schedule of matches is yet to be announced due to uncertainty over the venue.

Apart from Pakistan and India, the other competing nations are Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and a team that will emerge from the ACC Qualifiers.

The qualifying tournament is underway in Nepal.

Sethi expressed hope that the visit of his country’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to the Indian coastal city of Goa next month for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council meeting would help improve relations between the two countries.

“We are told that, probably, the snow will continue to melt. If this happens when the Champions Trophy is held in Pakistan in 2025, India will consider playing in Pakistan. We have been advised to play the Asia Cup at a neutral venue and also go to India for the World Cup.

Sethi indicated that the public mood in his country was that Pakistan should play cricket on equal terms with India.

“Our government has not imposed any restrictions regarding playing against India. But I can say right now that the public mood is there, we are not needy and we can stand on our feet financially and we want to play respectable cricket with India. We are also in talks with the ACC,” Sethi said.

The PCB chairman, however, did not specify who in the government was advising the PCB on the issue.

Sethi said that if Pakistan decides to shift all India’s matches in the Asia Cup to neutral venues, the neighbors should also implement the same hybrid experiment during the 50-over World Cup in October-November this year.

India is hosting the World Cup and there is talk from across the border of shifting Pakistan’s matches to neutral venues.

“We think this hybrid experiment can be implemented even when it is time for the World Cup,” Sethi said.

“Our stand is that everything should be on a reciprocal basis. In the olden times, yes there were security issues in Pakistan. But now there is no problem so what is the excuse for India not to play in Pakistan.

The ACC, headed by BCCI secretary Jay Shah, is yet to respond to the PCB regarding the proposed hybrid model. Reports say that other ACC members also want the Asia Cup to be held at a neutral venue, even though Pakistan will continue to host the tournament.

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