ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is still hopeful India agrees to its hybrid model of hosting the majority of the Asia Cup games at a neutral venue in September.
The hybrid model is the brainchild of Najam Sethi, who is the head of the PCB management committee.
Sethi met with the members of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this week to work out a solution after India said it will not travel to Pakistan for the event, apparently because of political tensions between the two countries.
Pakistan, India, qualifier Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are the six nations due to compete in the Asia Cup which is seen as a major tune-up for the teams due to participate in the World Cup in India.
“Until India is ready to play Pakistan bilaterally and in Pakistan, let’s have a hybrid solution,” Sethi said.
Sethi’s suggestive model to end the impasse means India could play Pakistan at a neutral venue in major tournaments like the Champions Trophy and even the World Cup, while the remaining matches are played in the host nation as scheduled.
After India hosts the World Cup later this year, Pakistan is due to host the Champions Trophy in 2025.
Sethi believes the hybrid model could work in both major events because he could face a similar situation if Islamabad asks him not to send the national team to the World Cup in October-November.
“I am concerned about not just the Asia Cup but also the World Cup and the Champions Trophy,” Sethi said. “The World Cup will be in India […] my government might turn around to me and say we have security issues there, you don’t go.
“And then the Champions Trophy following the World Cup, which we are hosting. India might turn around and say the same thing. We are not going to play in Pakistan and ask the ICC to shift the venue […] this is not going to work. What I am proposing is the way out of this logjam.”
Sethi has reportedly even suggested that Pakistan hosts only four games of the Asia Cup while the remaining 13 games can be staged at a neutral venue which would most likely be in the UAE. He is even willing to host the final at a neutral venue even if Pakistan qualifies for it against India or any other nation.
Sethi said he wanted an amicable solution for the Asia Cup which could pave the way for both nations to compete against each other in other major tournaments at a neutral venue.
“I have not been threatening anybody, give me a break,” Sethi said. “I am trying to be positive and find a way out of this problem. I could have easily said that if India is not going to come and play in Pakistan, we will not play in India, but I tried to find a hybrid model.”
Sethi hoped ACC president Jay Shah, who is also secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), could take the first step and accept Pakistan’s hybrid model for the Asia Cup and keep all the Asian nations united.
“I think Jay (Shah) is a young man, he aspires to be the head of the ICC,” Sethi said. “My advice to my young friend would be if you want to be a leader, you have to keep the herd together, keep the flock together.
“Don’t let it be said that when you were in the chair in the ACC, the ACC broke up.”
Sethi said the PCB has always come to the forefront and helped other Asian countries. Recently Pakistan played three-match T20 series against Afghanistan in the UAE after Australia refused to host them.
“When the Australians pulled out of their matches with Afghanistan we said we will step in and bail you out so that you get some money out of these matches,” he said.
“We’ve been very forthcoming in supporting members who will end up in some sort of trouble […] now we don’t have any issues and the others don’t have any issues with us. It’s just India.”