Bengaluru, Oct. 18: India-Pakistan contests have always been highly anticipated matches, but due to political tensions, they've become a rare affair. Though, on field, both teams share a lot of fun-filled camaraderie, their off-field tensions continue.
On Tuesday, BCCI Secretary Jay Shah put an end to speculations that India would travel to Pakistan for next year's Asia Cup, as he claimed that the tournament will be held at a neutral venue.
The Pakistan board did not take kindly to this as they threatened to pull out of next year's ODI World Cup in India. Pakistan is set to host the next edition of the Asia Cup, a decision which has been taken by the Asian Cricket Council's executive board. But Shah, who is the president of ACC, said that India will the Asia Cup at a neutral venue.
Following BCCI's AGM in Mumbai on Tuesday, Shah said, "India will play the Asia Cup at a neutral venue." As reported in PTI, Pakistan has not taken Shah's statement lightly as sources close to PCB chairman Ramiz Raja said that one of the options that Pakistan are looking to explore after Shah's claims is that they will look to pull out of the ODI World Cup set to be held in India next year.
"The PCB is now prepared to take hard decisions and play hard ball because it is also aware that the ICC and ACC events will have to face commercial liabilities and losses if Pakistan does not play India in these multi-team events," a senior PCB source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
India does play Pakistan at global or continental events but haven't travelled to the neighbouring country since 2008 Asia Cup. Pakistan last came to India for a short six-match white ball bilateral series in 2012. The PCB when contacted by PTI declined to give an official reaction to Shah's statement.
"We have nothing to say at the moment but yes we will look at things and take up this matter at appropriate forums like the ICC board meeting in Melbourne next month," a spokesperson was quoted by PTI.
However, it has been learnt that PCB Chairman Raja and other senior officials were very upset with the announcement by Jay Shah that India would not travel to Pakistan next year and had decided to take some hard decisions now.
"The PCB officials are surprised at the timing of Jay Shah's statement because there is still nearly a year to go before the Asia Cup is held in Pakistan in September 2023," one insider said.
He said the PCB had been aware that the issue of India travelling to Pakistan for the Asia Cup was on the BCCI AGM but didn't expect any announcement or statements on this issue at this time.
"The PCB is wondering in what capacity has Jay Shah given the statement that the ACC will look to relocate the Asia Cup to UAE out of Pakistan because the hosting rights were awarded by the executive board of the ACC not the President," the PCB source said.
The PCB sources said that Raja would be sending a strong letter to the ACC on the matter and would be demanding an emergency meeting of the ACC board to be convened in Melbourne next month to discuss Shah's statement. The insider also disclosed that the PCB had decided to look at several options and would not accept any disruption to its hosting rights.
"One option under consideration will be to pull out of the ACC as the PCB believes the ACC was formed to promote and develop cricket in the region and forge unity among the member nations. But the President of the ACC is going to give statements like these, there is no use for Pakistan to remain in the body," he added.
Meanwhile, returning to the grounds, India is set to take on Pakistan in their World Cup opener on Sunday (Oct. 23).