Zaka Ashraf to push for Pakistan’s World Cup matches at neutral venues in ICC meeting at Durban

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Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) acting chairman Zaka Ashraf will push for the country’s ODI World Cup matches at neutral venues at the ICC meetings in Durban this week, the Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (Sports), Ahsan Mazari, has said.

“Zaka Ashraf will bring up the issue of why can’t Pakistan’s matches in the World Cup be played at neutral venues when the Indian team can’t travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup,” he said.

India has refused to play its Asia Cup matches in Pakistan owing to geopolitical tensions, and after months of speculation around the continental tournament, the
Asian Cricket Council (ACC) announced that the event will be staged in a hybrid model with four games in Pakistan and nine in Sri Lanka from August 31 to September 17.

However, the PCB recently conveyed to the ICC and the BCCI that the national team’s participation in the World Cup is subject to government clearance due to the tense relations between the two countries.

Ashraf and the PCB chief operating officer, Salman Taseer are in Durban to attend the ICC meetings where they are expected to discuss India’s refusal to send its team to Pakistan citing security reasons.

Mazari also claimed that, like him, some other members of the special committee, formed by Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to recommend whether the national team should travel to India for the World Cup, also felt in their personal capacities that it was time Pakistan took a strong stance on India refusing to tour the country.

Sharif had formed a high-level committee, headed by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto, to decide on the national cricket team’s participation in the World Cup in India.

“I want our World Cup matches at neutral venues if India doesn’t want to send its team to Pakistan for Asia Cup. If they have security problems in Pakistan according to the Indian board, then we can also question the security situation in India,” said Mazari.

Before Ashraf was named chairman of a new cricket management committee by the government to run the PCB affairs, his predecessor Najam Sethi had negotiated the deal with the ACC members, including BCCI, that Pakistan should be allowed to host 4-5 Asia Cup matches at home while rest could be held in Sri Lanka under the hybrid model.

A PCB source also said that Sethi had prepared a strong case for the ICC to increase Pakistan’s revenue share in the new financial model for member countries.
“Sethi had argued that if India was to get the lion’s share of the ICC revenues Pakistan also wanted an increase in its share as without its participation, the ICC would not be able to sign lucrative broadcast and other sponsorship deals for its new cycle of ICC events from 2023-2027,” said the source.

It remains to be seen how Ashraf would plead for an increase in revenue at the ICC meetings.

“The situation is clear (that) if there is no Pakistan-India matches in ICC events, the other boards stand to lose out on revenue,” the source added.



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