Ramiz Raja says Pakistan won’t boycott 2023 ODI World Cup; tells ICC it was said to pressurise India

Image Source : AP Ramiz Raja | File Photo

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has told the ICC officials that it had threatened to boycott next year’s 50-over World Cup in India to exert pressure on the neighbouring country to send its team for the Asia Cup, according to PTI sources.

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 (October-November 2023). In October, ACC president and BCCI secretary Jay Shah had said that India will not travel to Pakistan next year for the 50-over Asia Cup — likely to be held in September 2023 — after which the PCB had threatened to pull out of the World Cup.

But, it is learnt that the PCB chairman Ramiz Raja has told the International Cricket Council officials that the Board has not made any decision not to send its team to India for the 50-over World Cup. The ICC officials, including chief executive officer Geoff Allardice, were in Pakistan as guests to watch the home Test series against England.

“Ramiz assured the ICC officials that PCB had made no decision on not sending its team to India for the World Cup nor was it in favour of boycotting such a mega event but because of the strained cricket relations between the two countries, the PCB had to exert pressure to get the Indian board to send its team for Asia Cup,” a source aware of the development told PTI.

The source said the ICC officials conveyed to Ramiz their concerns regarding his statements about Pakistan not playing in next year’s World Cup in India if the Indian team does not participate in the Asia Cup. According to the source, Ramiz also told the ICC officials that the PCB would not accept the 2025 Champions Trophy being moved from the country on the pretext that India may not travel to Pakistan.

“Ramiz was very clear that Pakistan will not be receptive to the tournament being moved anywhere else because of India as it had already started heavy investment on building or renovating infrastructure for the ICC event,” the source said.

“Ramiz reminded the ICC officials that the executive board which included India had given hosting rights of the Champions Trophy to Pakistan, so there should be no confusion as to where the tournament will be held on schedule.” India hasn’t travelled to Pakistan since the 2008 Asia Cup, and after the Mumbai terrorist attack on November 26 that year, the scheduled bilateral series in early 2009 was cancelled.

Pakistan did travel to India for a short six-match white-ball series in 2012, but in the last 10 years, there hasn’t been any bilateral cricket. The two teams have only played each other at various ICC and ACC events.

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