Source: Pakistan to play India in Lahore on March 1 in ICC Champions Trophy

A source inside Pakistan cricket told Al Jazeera that despite the proposed date, India’s participation in the 2025 event is questionable.

Cricket players shake hands.
India's Shreyas Iyer, left, shakes hands with Pakistan's Haris Rauf after their World Cup match in India on October 14, 2023. ICC Champions Trophy organisers are hopeful India will travel to Pakistan for the tournament in early 2025 despite political differences between the two nations [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has proposed March 1 as the date for the marquee ICC Champions Trophy contest between Pakistan and India in Lahore in a revised schedule circulated to the International Cricket Council (ICC), boards of the seven other participating countries and the official broadcaster, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Pakistan and India are joined by Bangladesh and New Zealand in Group A, and Australia, England, South Africa and Afghanistan form Group B. Each team will play the three teams in its group once, and the top two teams from each group will play in the semifinals.

The ICC Champions Trophy will be played in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi, which will host three, seven and five matches, respectively.

The tournament will begin in Karachi on February 19 and conclude with the final in Lahore on March 9. The final will have a reserve day – March 10 – in case of bad weather.

Under the current schedule, Karachi and Rawalpindi will host a semifinal each. However, if India make it through to the last four, then their semifinal will be shifted to Lahore, where Pakistan plans to accommodate the Indian team throughout the tournament for security reasons and because of the city’s proximity to India.

Wide shot of cricket stadium.
Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium will be one of three venues used during the 2025 ICC Champions Trophy with all of India’s matches to be played there for logistical and security reasons [KM Chaudary/AP]

Will India be allowed to travel to Pakistan?

For many years, India’s government has barred the national cricket team from travelling to Pakistan because of ongoing political tensions between the two neighbours.

India’s refusal to travel to Pakistan for last year’s 50-over Asia Cup resulted in a costly logistical nightmare for tournament organisers with Sri Lanka stepping in to co-host all the India games and the final.

The Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) has previously stated that a decision about whether to travel to Pakistan for the ICC Champions Trophy will be guided by their government’s advice.

Pakistan, however, travelled to India in late 2023 for the 50-over World Cup after their government greenlit the tour, opening up the slim possibility that India would do likewise for the 2025 Champions Trophy.

India last played in Pakistan in 2008, losing the Asia Cup final by 100 runs to Sri Lanka in Karachi.

The political tensions have halted bilateral cricket, and the two countries play each other only in the ICC’s or the Asian Cricket Council’s tournaments.

They last played a bilateral series in December 2012 and January 2013 when Pakistan toured India for a white ball series. India last visited Pakistan for a bilateral commitment in early 2006.

A PCB source told Al Jazeera that all other countries, except for India, have been “supportive and encouraging” of Pakistan hosting the 2025 Champions Trophy.

“The PCB chairman met heads of cricket boards in Barbados before the T20 World Cup final and discussed Pakistan’s preparations to host next year’s ICC Champions Trophy,” the source said.

“Six of the seven countries have been supportive and encouraging because their teams have been to Pakistan and they have had firsthand information about what the country has delivered and the lengths it has gone to deliver them.

“The boards have also had the feedback from the players who have come here for international cricket and to play in the Pakistan Super League.”

Over the past three months, several ICC delegations have visited Pakistan and expressed their satisfaction on the headway that the PCB is making for what will be the first ICC tournament in the country since the 1996 World Cup.

The ICC Champions Trophy marks a return of the tournament to the international cricket calendar after it was scrapped following the 2017 edition. Pakistan won that competition with a commanding 180-run victory over India at The Oval in London, England.

Source: Al Jazeera