#WhatTheFAQ: Pakistan cricket team to pull out of ICC World Cup 2023? 

The Pakistan Cricket Board officials have threatened to boycott next year’s World Cup after a statement made by Jay Shah, BCCI Secretary, regarding the venue of the Asia Cup 2023. Here is what he said
Pic: EdexLive
Pic: EdexLive

The Indian and Pakistan cricket boards were at loggerheads on Tuesday, October 18, after Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Secretary Jay Shah said the 2023 Asia Cup will be played at a neutral venue, prompting the neighbours to threaten a boycott of next year’s ODI World Cup.

But why is the venue being changed? When was the last time India travelled to Pakistan for a cricket match series? Today’s FAQ will dig a little deeper into this.

Who initially had the hosting rights for the 2023 Asia Cup?

The hosting rights of the 2023 edition of the 50-over Asia Cup has been awarded to Pakistan by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) as a pre-cursor to the marquee World Cup in India. However, Shah is the President of the ACC, and therefore, his word could be the final decision, reports stated.

What reasons have been cited for the change in venue?

One of the reasons cited for not playing in Pakistan was that there has been precedence in the past of the continental event being shifted to a neutral venue, as reported by PTI. In fact, there have been several occasions wherein a cricket match was initially supposed to be held in Pakistan, but the venue was shifted due to “security” reasons. In March 2022, three one-day internationals and a Twenty20 match between Pakistan and Australia were moved from Rawalpindi to Lahore because of “domestic politics”, according to reports.

The other reason cited was the Sri Lankan team bus being attacked by terrorists in Lahore, after which no international team visited the country for more than a decade due to security reasons, as stated in a report by PTI.

What has been the history of international cricket events in Pakistan?

Before 2019, the last time Pakistan hosted a Test match was in 2009. It was in this year, that a bus carrying the cricket team of Sri Lanka was fired upon by 12 gunmen outside the Gadaffi stadium in Lahore, Pakistan, while they were on their way to play the third day of the second Test against the Pakistani cricket team. Since then, the Pakistani cricket team played their “home” games in UAE. Sri Lanka returned to play ODIs and T20Is in 2019.

However, other countries too have called off their matches citing security reasons. In 2021, England’s cricketers decided not to travel to Pakistan, after the New Zealand cricket team called off its men’s team’s tour of Pakistan following a government alert that warned of a possible attack outside Rawalpindi Stadium. In fact, England men's team have not played an international match in Pakistan since 2005.

How did the birth of the Pakistan Super League change things for the country?

But there have been signs of the return of international cricket to the country. In March 2022, the Australian cricket team arrived in Islamabad for what was their first cricket tour of Pakistan in almost 24 years. Just like the popularity and craze associated with the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Pakistan Super League (PSL), has become the second most-viewed T20 league in the world after the IPL. While the first three seasons of the league were held in UAE, the matches, later on, shifted to Pakistan, and still, saw the same amount of response from fans and cricketers alike.

In fact, the PCB has also announced the launch of the Women's T20 league which will run alongside PSL 2023.

When was the last time India travelled to Pakistan for a cricket match?

India hasn't travelled to Pakistan since the 2008 Asia Cup. In fact, its tour of Pakistan in the same year was cancelled after the government refused to grant permission for the team to travel across the border in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. This would have been the first time in over a decade that India would have travelled to the country for the Asia Cup 2023. But, with talks around changing the venue, this seems unlikely.

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