Newly-elected Pakistan’s Cricket Board (PCB) chairman and former team captain Ramiz Raja speaks during a press conference at the cricket academy in Lahore on September 13, 2021. (Photo by Arif ALI / AFP) (Photo by ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images)
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja has said that if India chooses to opt-out of the Asia Cup which will be held in Pakistan next year, then Pakistan will also not travel to India to take part in the 2023 50-over World Cup.
Earlier in October, BCCI secretary Jay Shah completely dismissed the speculations of Team India travelling to Pakistan for the event and said that the Asia Cup would be held at a neutral venue.
Raja pointed out that an aggressive approach will be adopted, considering their performances have been great and they defeated the “board of billion dollar economy” twice in one year, referring to India’s losses to arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2021 T20 World Cup and Asia Cup this year.
“Our position is blunt that if they (Indian team) come then we will go to the World Cup, if they do not come then let them do it. Let them play without Pakistan. If Pakistan does not participate in the World Cup scheduled in India next year, who will see it? We will adopt an aggressive approach, our team is showing performance, we have defeated the biggest business-making cricket team in the world, we have played in the final of the T20 World Cup,” Ramiz told Pakistan media on Friday.
“I have always said that we have to improve the economy of Pakistan cricket and that will only happen when our team performs well, we have done it in the 2021 T20 World Cup. Beat India, we beat India in the Asia Cup, Pakistan cricket team has beaten the board of billion dollar economy twice in one year,” he added.
After Shah’s statement about holding Asia Cup at a neutral venue, PCB issued a statement saying, “The overall impact of such statements has the potential to split the Asian and international cricketing communities and can impact Pakistan’s visit to India for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 and future ICC Events in India in the 2024-2031 cycle.”
Following PCB’s statement, Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said that India will host the 2023 WC with all teams.
The Sports Minister said that India is not afraid of any threat and it will not stop them from hosting the tournament.
“It is an internal matter of BCCI and it will handle the issue smartly. We have not done anything wrong yet while hosting international tournaments before. We have hosted World Cup successfully before and all teams participated happily. We will host the tournament next year and all teams will play in it,” Thakur had said in October.
BCCI President Roger Binny also said that touring Pakistan for Asia Cup 2023 is not the board’s call, but they will rely on the government’s decision.
“That is not our call. We cannot say where our team has to go. We need to take clearance from the government if we leave the country, or other countries come here. We cannot take that decision on our own, we have to rely on government,” Binny had said.
Afterwards, Indian skipper Rohit Sharma also said that the Men in Blue would focus on the T20 World Cup and stick to guidelines set by the apex board for cricket in India referring to BCCI secretary Jay Shah’s remarks concerning India’s travel to Pakistan for the 2023 Asia Cup.
“My focus is on World Cup. Whatever BCCI decides we will go by that,” Rohit had said while addressing a press conference ahead of the high-voltage clash against Pakistan.
2023 will mark the first time ever that India will host the marquee cricketing event by itself. It co-hosted the 1987 World Cup with Pakistan and the 1996 World Cup with Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The tournament made its return to India in 2011 when it co-hosted it along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. India also emerged victorious in the 2011 edition of the tournament.
Also, flagship tournaments are supposed to be held in Pakistan as the country is scheduled to host the forthcoming edition of the Asia Cup in 2023 followed by the 2025 ICC Champions Trophy.
Cricket teams stopped touring Pakistan after a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team back in 2009. It was only in 2015 that international tours resumed in the country. Since then, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Australia and England are some of the teams that have toured Pakistan for bilateral series.