Pakistan cricket board may seek to tweak Asia Cup hybrid model

Zaka Ashraf, who looks set to become new PCB chief, wants the event to go back to Pakistan as sole hosts.

pakistan cricket
The PCB had threatened to boycott the ICC World Cup, which is due to take place in India in October-November this year, if India refused to play in Pakistan [File: Satish Kumar/Reuters]

The future of cricket’s Asia Cup 2023 edition looks shaky once again after Zaka Ashraf, who looks set to become the next chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), said he does not approve of the hybrid model that will be used for this year’s edition, labelling it an “injustice”.

The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) accepted Pakistan’s proposal for a hybrid version of the Asia Cup after India refused to tour due to strained relations between the two South Asian countries.

Under the plan, Pakistan is set to host four games and the remaining nine will be played in Sri Lanka.

However, speaking to the media in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, on Wednesday, Ashraf said he had “rejected the hybrid model [for Asia Cup] in the past itself because I do not agree with it”.

He highlighted the fact that “only minor teams like Nepal will play in Pakistan”, whereas “major matches” will be played in Sri Lanka.

“The complete event [Asia Cup] should take place in Pakistan,” he said.

“I don’t know what decision the previous management took as I don’t have access to the information regarding it. I will go and see, and try to do what is in the best interest of Pakistan within the shortest possible time.”

Hybrid format amid fears of boycott

Pakistan is the official host of the tournament, set to take place from August 31 to September 17 this year, but it opted for a hybrid format after India refused to play in the country due to strained relations.

India and Pakistan are bitter political rivals, and the nuclear-armed nations have fought three wars since gaining independence from British rule in 1947.

The two countries have not played a bilateral series against each other on home soil since 2012, locking horns in international tournaments on neutral grounds.

The PCB had threatened to boycott the World Cup, which is due to take place in India in October and November this year if India refused to play in Pakistan.

The hybrid format was approved by the PCB interim management committee under its chief Najam Sethi, also a former PCB chairman.

However, Sethi will not be a contender for the chairman position, with Ashraf being one of the two nominations put forward to the board of governors.

Pakistan, India and Nepal are placed in Group A, and Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are in Group B.

The top two teams in each go to the Super Four, and the top two play the final, which is set to be played in Sri Lanka.

An ACC member, in response to Ashraf’s comments, said: “The Asia Cup model has been accepted by the ACC and there would be no change. Ashraf is free to say whatever he wants.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies