Pakistan reserves the right to pull out of Asia Cup next year, Sethi warns BCCI

Pakistan reserves the right to pull out of Asia Cup next year, Sethi warns BCCI


LAHORE: India’s objection over Pakistan hosting the 2018 Emerging Teams Asia Cup might force the latter to exercise its ‘right’ to pull out of the Asia Cup which will be staged in India in September next year, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi warned on Tuesday.

Representatives from India and Bangladesh were absent during the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) meeting in Lahore in October after they raised their aforementioned objections in a meeting earlier in Dubai which led to the decision that Pakistan will host the Emerging Teams Asia Cup in April 2018.

“The ACC Development Committee head and Sri Lanka Cricket chairman Thilanga Sumathipala tried to convince India and Bangladesh that they were also invited to attend the meeting [in Lahore] but they did not come. So the committee, with majority members’ votes, went on to make the decision in favour of Pakistan,” said Sethi at the national team’s new kit unveiling ceremony here.

“I also raised the point that since the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is still awaiting an approval from the government to hold the Asia Cup and wants the visa clearance of all the participating teams, the PCB will decide whether to go to India or not because we are also bound by our government’s clearance,” he added.

“Over this situation, all the member countries decided to defer the discussion and take a final decision later.”

The PCB chairman admitted that the longer format of the game is struggling to attract sponsors which was evident when the PCB’s Board of Governors suggested in a meeting that the country’s premier first-class competition Quaid-i-Azam Trophy be discontinued.

However, Sethi believed the traditional format shall be adhered with whether it attracts any sponsors or not. “Representatives from four regions and well-reputed departments are a part of the BoG, but none of them could offer the sponsorship for the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy,” he said.

“But the fact is that the PCB has to invest on the Trophy, even if no sponsors come forward.”

He expressed delight at the fact that Pakistan will be playing 121 matches in the next four years as per the International Cricket Council (ICC) Future Tours Programme finalised recently.

He criticised the local media for running damaging news items picked up from the Indian media outlets which suggested Pakistan will be playing just 104 matches.

“An old document about the FTP was leaked from India, according to which Pakistan were to play 104 matches in the next four years,” he said.

“The PCB, like other cricket boards is not allowed by the ICC to make any comments about the FTP in public, but to defuse the propaganda we were forced to inform the media about the real facts unofficially,” added the PCB chairman.

“The PCB, in fact, has done a great job to earn 121 matches for the national team in the next four years and most of them are against strong cricketing nations.”

However, Sethi said Pakistan will not accept the FTP if it won the ongoing legal battle against India pending with the ICC dispute resolution committee over the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that both the countries signed in 2014 and which ensured Pakistan and India would be playing six bilateral series during 2015-2023.

“If Pakistan wins the case, India will have to give us the matches and for that purpose the FTP will be changed,” said Sethi. “And if we lose, the same FTP with some minor changes may go ahead.”

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited signed an agreement with the PCB to sponsor the national team for the upcoming three-match Twenty20 International series against New Zealand in January.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, prolific middle-order batsman Babar Azam and opener Fakhar Zaman were also present on the occasion.

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