Pakistan may play World Cup matches in Bangladesh

Our Correspondent
Thursday, Mar 30, 2023

LAHORE: The General Manager of Cricket for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Wasim Khan has said that Pakistan may play their matches of the upcoming ODI World Cup at a neutral venue.

“I don’t know if it would take place here on in a different country but a neutral venue is highly likely,” said Wasim, a former PCB CEO. “I don’t think that Pakistan will play their matches in India. I think their matches will also be held at a neutral venue just like India’s Asia Cup matches,” Wasim added.

The BCCI has refused to send its team to Pakistan for the Asia Cup. In response, the PCB has said it will not send its team to India for the World Cup. The idea of Pakistan playing their 2023 ODI World Cup matches in Bangladesh was discussed at the ICC meetings last week, with the hybrid Asia Cup model being looked at as a solution.

The idea came up on the sidelines of the board meetings in Dubai, where India's presence in the Asia Cup - and consequently Pakistan's at the World Cup - were points on the agendas of both members. It has only been mentioned as an option and no formal discussions have taken place on the matter, but the PCB has been keen to point out that India not playing in Pakistan in an Asia Cup has a potential impact on the ICC's Champions Trophy, due to be held in Pakistan in February 2025.The Asian Cricket Council agreed in principle to look at a hybrid model that will allow the tournament to take place in Pakistan but for India's matches to be played at a neutral venue that is yet to be finalised. Options include the UAE, Oman, Sri Lanka or even England. The India-Pakistan games will be played at the neutral venue as well as the final should India reach it.

That solution, the PCB then proposed in informal discussions could be applied to the World Cup as well. The showpiece global event is scheduled to be played across ten venues in India from October 5.

Bangladesh has been proposed as an option because of its proximity to India. Last year, the Asia Cup - postponed from 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic - was played in the UAE, though the hosting rights were with Sri Lanka. They had swapped those rights with Pakistan because of relations between India and Pakistan. The 2018 Asia Cup was also moved to the UAE from India for similar reasons. -- with input from agencies