Asia Cup 2023: Uncertain Venue, BCCI's Push for Neutrality Sparks Controversy

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The Asia Cup 2023 continues to be a topic of discussion as rumours regarding its postponement circulate. However, the latest updates suggest that the tournament will proceed as planned. The BCCI is pushing for a decision on the venue, favouring a neutral location.

An ACC board member has denied rumours of the Asia Cup being postponed or cancelled, countering the PCB's stance that they will only participate if the tournament is held in Pakistan. ACC sources clarified that no such proposal has been sent to member nations. Reports suggesting a potential change in venue, if PCB does not agree to a neutral location for the Asia Cup, were mentioned in Pakistani media.

Asia Cup 2023 hosting is still uncertain

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) holds the hosting rights for the 2023 Asia Cup, but BCCI secretary Jay Shah, who is also the ACC chairman, has stated that the Indian cricket team will not visit Pakistan. In response, the PCB has suggested a 'hybrid model' for the tournament, with Pakistan playing their matches on home soil and India playing at a neutral venue, potentially in Dubai.

The BCCI is reportedly seeking to relocate the entire tournament to the UAE, taking inspiration from the 2018 and 2022 editions when India and Sri Lanka served as hosts.The United Arab Emirates is being considered as a prospective host for the competition due to its three grounds in Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi.

According to an anonymous ACC Board member present at an ICC meeting in Dubai, there have been messages exchanged but no formal discussions or proposals to postpone the Asia Cup. The source also stated that the PCB would be notified first if the tournament were to be cancelled; but, as of right now, no such interactions have occurred, and the ACC chairman has not issued any formal remarks regarding the situation.

No update on the hosting

As per the sources, there was an official invitation sent to the Indian team by the PCB, ACC, and BCCI, ensuring top-level security and hospitality. The source also highlighted the financial aspect, mentioning the significant investment made by the official broadcaster for the telecast rights, which includes guaranteed India-Pakistan matches. Furthermore, the source revealed that during informal discussions, the BCCI received support from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) regarding hosting the tournament at a neutral venue.

Last year, the BCCI confirmed that Team India would not participate in the Asia Cup held in Pakistan. In response, the Pakistan Cricket Board proposed a hybrid model where India would play their matches at a different venue while other teams competed in Pakistan. The schedule for the Asia Cup 2023, set to take place in September, has not been officially announced yet. There are speculations that Team India might participate in a five-nation tournament during that period.

Further tournaments in jeopardy

If the Asia Cup is cancelled, it could pose difficulties for the PCB in hosting the 2025 Champions Trophy. It has been confirmed that Team India will not tour Pakistan, so the PCB will need to find an alternative arrangement. Regarding the 2023 World Cup, India is scheduled to host the tournament later this year. Despite the potential cancellation of the Asia Cup, it is unlikely that the PCB will withdraw from the ICC event. The last time the Men in Green visited India was during the 2016 T20 World Cup, and Team India hasn't toured Pakistan since the 2008 Asia Cup.

Currently, the two teams only face each other in ICC events and Asia Cups, with no bilateral series taking place since the 2012/13 season. Their most recent encounter was in the league stage of the 2022 T20 World Cup.

In other news, WFI President Brij Bhushan Singh has stated Wrestling tournaments for juniors and cadets should be organised.

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