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Pakistan could skip the World Cup if it loses the right to hold the Asia Cup: Sethi

The chairman of Pakistan’s cricket board, Najam Sethi, told Reuters that there is a “very real possibility” that Pakistan will skip this year’s World Cup in India if they lose the right to host the Asia Cup.

India and Pakistan’s political relationship has gotten worse over the last ten years, and as a result, they no longer play cricket against each other. Instead, they only play each other in multi-team games at neutral locations.

India won’t go to Pakistan for the Asia Cup in September because they are worried about safety. Instead, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has offered to let them play their games in the United Arab Emirates in a “hybrid model.”

Sethi said that India wanted the whole tournament to be moved out of Pakistan, but that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had not yet given an official answer to the offer.

He also said that this could affect the 50-overs World Cup in India this year and the Champions Trophy in Pakistan in 2025 in a big way.

In a Zoom interview, he said, “They want all the games to be played in a neutral place.”

“BCCI should make a smart choice so that we don’t have any trouble in the future.

“India shouldn’t be thinking about a situation in which we end up skipping the Asia Cup, the World Cup, and then the Champions Trophy.

“That is going to be a big mess.” Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have also said they don’t want to play in the UAE because of the heat and problems with logistics. This has made local media speculate even more that the Asian Cricket Council might try to move the whole event out of Pakistan.

Sethi said that was “not acceptable” and said again that if that happened, Pakistan might not go to the World Cup.

“That’s a very real possibility, of course,” he said.

Sethi said that Pakistan would expect the same for their team at the World Cup in October and November if India agreed to the hybrid plan for the Asia Cup.

“We also worry about our team’s safety in India,” he said. “So Pakistan should play its games in Dhaka, Mirpur, the United Arab Emirates, or Sri Lanka.

“This is the way forward until India agrees to play Pakistan bilaterally in Pakistan and outside of Pakistan.”

BCCI Secretary Jay Shah was not immediately available for comment, but neither the Indian board nor the International Cricket Council (ICC) have said they are even thinking about holding any World Cup games outside of India.

Sethi said that Pakistan, which won the World Cup in 1992, was a top cricketing country that shouldn’t be ignored, and that they would have to talk to the ICC about the Asia Cup problem.

“The ICC should step in, but I have a feeling that India wouldn’t want them to, especially during the Asia Cup,” he said.

The ICC could not be reached right away for comment.

After an attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009, Pakistan had to work hard to get top teams to come back to the country to play cricket over the last couple of years.

“We worked so hard to bring international cricket back to Pakistan,” said Sethi. “In the last few years, every big country has visited Pakistan. Anyone you can think of has been there. They all liked how the protection was set up.

That’s no longer a problem.”

Sethi blamed the BCCI’s “stubbornness” for not making the match between India and Pakistan the biggest rivalry in cricket. He said that there was always a lot of buzz around any match between India and Pakistan.

“The most important game is the one between India and Pakistan. It’s bigger than India vs. Australia or Australia vs. England. How can we put that at risk by being stubborn?” he said.

“The Indian bridge team, the Indian kabaddi team, the Indian baseball team, and so on, have all been to Pakistan.”So, what’s happening? Why can’t the Indian team play cricket in Pakistan?”