The chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Mr Ramiz Raja, has given a detailed explanation of what would happen if India denies visiting Pakistan for Asia Cup 2023 and the tournament is moved out of Pakistan. Notably, the 2023 season of the Asian battle was gifted to Pakistan for hosting by the entire Asian Cricket Council (ACC), including the President of the council, Mr Jay Shah.
Jay, who is the secretary of the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), made shocking statements in October, saying that they won't come to Pakistan for the Asia Cup 2023. Ramiz strongly responded earlier and has given befitting answers recently as well when queried about the scenario.
He said BCCI is acting like Pakistan is mulling over the went and does not have any official rights to host the event. He further clarified that if the event is moved somewhere else just because of India, Pakistan will opt out of the multi-national tournament.
"It's not as if we don't have the rights to host, and we're pleading to host it. We won the rights fair and square. If India doesn't come, they won't come. If the Asia Cup gets taken away from Pakistan, maybe we're the ones that pull out."
Quoting examples of how Pakistan has successfully hosted big teams in the recent past, he said,
"We've shown we can host great teams. I can understand issues relating to bilateral cricket, but the Asia Cup is a multi-nation tournament, almost as big as the World Cup for the Asian bloc.
He stated that it won't be justified if the Asia Cup 2023 is taken away from Pakistan. According to him, BCCI should not make such statements after the event is officially scheduled to be hosted by Pakistan, specifically when it comes to an international tournament.
"Why give it to us in the first place and then make all those statements about India not travelling to Pakistan? I accept that India won't come because the government won't allow them to come - fine. But to take the Asia Cup away from the host on that basis isn't right."
Emphasizing on the importance of Indo-Pak cricket, he says there is barely any interest in cricket without the two teams. He quoted the example of 90,000 spectators at MCG for Pak vs Ind World Cup match.
"Common sense. There is no contest if India and Pakistan are not playing. I have mentioned it so many times. I have always been loved in India; I've done so many IPL editions. I know the fans want to see India against Pakistan.
"You saw what happened in the World Cup - 90,000 fans turned up [at MCG]. I am just a little disappointed with the ICC. When the point was put to the FIFA president why is the US playing Iran, Iran has so many issues regarding women's rights, he picked up the football and said this could solve a lot of issues. Through sports, we can take care of the tribe mentality. I feel let bat and ball talk."
He concluded saying that the two teams should also involve in red-ball cricket.
"What happens if the government of Pakistan doesn't allow Pakistan to travel to India because of security issues? It is quite an emotional subject here. The debate was started by BCCI in a way. We had to respond. Test cricket needs India v Pakistan."