Amidst speculation around Pakistan’s WC venues, BCCI and ICC maintain status quo


Amidst speculation around Pakistan’s WC venues, BCCI and ICC maintain status quo

by Vijay Tagore • Last updated on Wed, Mar 29, 2023

Will Pakistan play the World Cup games at a neutral venue? Officials in and close to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) are hinting at that possibility – with Bangladesh identified as a potential option – but the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have dismissed any such proposal.

Summarily quashing reports from Pakistan, which hint at the PCB’s insistence on a neutral venue for the World Cup games as a quid pro quo for its consent to play the India matches of the Asia Cup outside Pakistan, an ICC official said the preparations for the World Cup are in full steam. “Bangladesh was not discussed at all at the Board meeting and full backing for the event in India was given by the Board. We’re focused on that,” an ICC official told on Wednesday evening. independently verified with a couple of board members whether the matter had come up for discussion at the meeting, held in Dubai last week, and they denied any such knowledge. “It was not discussed at the board. (It) may have been in one of the committees but never in my presence,” a member, who was present at last Monday’s (March 20) meeting in Dubai, told BCB chief executive Nizamuddin also clarified to Cricbuzz that he was not aware of any such developments.

But Pakistan’s side seems to be claiming such discussions had taken place at an informal level in Dubai after the PCB, in principle, relented to host the India games of the Asia Cup in September at a neutral venue in a hybrid model with non-India games taking place in Pakistan. While the venue has not yet been finalised, Oman, UAE and Sri Lanka have emerged as options.

Meanwhile, the idea of a neutral venue for the World Cup was openly hinted at by no less than a general manager of the ICC evoking sharp reactions from the ICC and the BCCI. “I don’t know if it would take place here in a different country but a neutral venue is highly likely,” Wasim Khan, a former CEO of the PCB and current GM of the ICC, told a news outlet in Pakistan on Monday. “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.”

However, the ICC distanced itself from its general manager’s comments saying that he is not a representative of the ICC’s stand. A BCCI official reacted more strongly questioning Khan’s locus standi to make such comments. “Wasim Khan has no business talking about the neutral venue, he should stop behaving like a PCB CEO,” said a top BCCI official, who is conversant with the developments.

The World Cup is scheduled for October-November but the BCCI and the ICC are yet to announce the schedule. Delhi and Chennai have been touted to be the venue options for the big India-Pakistan game but nothing has been confirmed. The BCCI is believed to be planning to host the 48 games in 12 cities with each getting four matches and the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad hosting the final. The Wankhede in Mumbai is almost assured of one semifinal match with discussion still on for the host city of the other semifinal.

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