Pakistan Threatens World Cup Boycott as Hosting Rights for Asia Cup Hang in the Balance

In a shocking development, Pakistan’s cricket board chairman, Najam Sethi, has hinted at the potential boycott of this year’s World Cup in India.

The reason behind this looming threat is the uncertainty surrounding Pakistan’s hosting rights for the Asia Cup. The longstanding political tensions between India and Pakistan have adversely affected bilateral cricket, pushing the two teams to face each other only in multi-team events held in neutral venues.

India, citing safety concerns, has categorically ruled out traveling to Pakistan for the upcoming Asia Cup in September.

Responding to this, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has proposed a “hybrid model,” suggesting that India plays their matches in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, India is firm on its stance and demands the entire tournament be moved out of Pakistan.

The repercussions of this deadlock could be catastrophic not only for the Asia Cup but also for the 50-overs World Cup scheduled to be held in India later this year. Moreover, Pakistan’s chances of hosting the 2025 Champions Trophy would also be in jeopardy.

Najam Sethi expressed his concerns, stating, “They want all the matches in a neutral venue. BCCI should take a good, rational decision so that we don’t have any problems going forward. India should not be looking at a situation where we end up boycotting the Asia Cup and also the World Cup, and then India ends up boycotting the Champions Trophy. That will be a huge mess.”

Adding to the growing complexity, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have joined the dissent against playing in the UAE, citing heat and logistical issues. Local media speculates that the Asian Cricket Council may consider relocating the entire tournament away from Pakistan.

Sethi strongly opposes this notion, reaffirming the possibility of a World Cup boycott if such a decision is made. “That’s a very real possibility, of course,” he emphasized.

If India agrees to the proposed hybrid model for the Asia Cup, Sethi asserts that Pakistan expects reciprocal terms for their team at the World Cup, which is scheduled for October and November.

Sethi addressed the security concerns for the Pakistani team in India, proposing alternative venues for their matches.

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“So let Pakistan play its matches in Dhaka or Mirpur, or UAE or in Sri Lanka. This is the solution going forward, until such time that India agrees to play Pakistan, in Pakistan and outside Pakistan, bilaterally.”

While BCCI Secretary Jay Shah was not immediately available for comment, neither the Indian board nor the International Cricket Council (ICC) have shown any inclination toward staging World Cup matches outside India.

Sethi believes that Pakistan, as a prominent cricketing nation and previous World Cup champion in 1992, should not be overlooked. He suggests involving the ICC in resolving the Asia Cup predicament but speculates that India would not welcome ICC interference, particularly during the tournament.

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Pakistan, having endured a lengthy hiatus from international cricket following the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore, has worked diligently to revive international tours in recent years.

Sethi proudly acknowledges their accomplishments, stating, “We worked so hard to bring international cricket back to Pakistan. Every major country has toured Pakistan in the last few years. You name them, they’ve all been there. They all appreciated the security arrangements. That’s not a problem anymore.”

Highlighting the immense hype surrounding India-Pakistan encounters, Sethi criticizes the BCCI’s stubbornness in hindering the potential of this rivalry becoming the greatest spectacle in cricket.

He emphasizes, “The India-Pakistan game is the biggest game in town. It’s bigger than Australia v England, it’s bigger than India v Australia. How can we jeopardize that by stubbornness?”

The growing uncertainty surrounding the Asia Cup and its potential impact on the World Cup has cast a shadow on cricket fans worldwide.

As the cricketing fraternity eagerly awaits the resolution of this impasse, all eyes turn to the respective cricket boards and the ICC, hoping for a mutually agreeable solution that upholds the spirit of the game.

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