Najam Sethi, former PCB chief, has raised concerns about India’s reluctance to face Pakistan in the final stages of the Asia Cup, pointing to the choice of Colombo as the venue and emphasizing the weather forecast differences between Colombo and Hambantota.

Najam Sethi continues to voice concerns over the organization of the Asia Cup 2023, especially as the Sri Lankan leg of the tournament grapples with rain interruptions. The tournament is operating under a ‘hybrid module’ proposed by the PCB, with four out of thirteen matches taking place in Pakistan and the remaining nine in Sri Lanka. This arrangement came into effect after the BCCI declined to send Team India to Pakistan due to diplomatic reasons, leading India to conduct their matches in Sri Lanka.

However, this decision has cast a shadow over the championship, with weather disruptions affecting matches. Reports suggested that the ACC, led by Jay Shah, was contemplating relocating Super Four matches from Colombo to Hambantota to minimize rain-related interruptions. Nevertheless, the ACC has now conveyed that the tournament will proceed as initially planned, with all matches scheduled to be held in Colombo.

“BCCI/ACC informed PCB today that they had decided to shift next India-Pak match from Colombo to Hambantota because of rain forecasts. Within one hour they changed their mind and announced Colombo as the venue. What’s going on? Is India afraid to play and lose to Pakistan? Look at the rain forecast,” Sethi penned in response to the sudden decision change, expressing his discontent with the ACC’s actions.

On Tuesday, ACC President Jay Shah explained the reasoning behind the venue selection for the Asia Cup, highlighting concerns about playing the entire tournament in Pakistan due to security and economic factors.

“All the full members, media rights holders, and in-stadia rights holders were initially hesitant to commit to hosting the entire tournament in Pakistan. This reluctance stemmed from concerns related to the security and economic situation prevailing in the country. In my capacity as ACC President, I was committed to finding a viable and mutually agreeable solution. To this end, I had accepted the hybrid model that was proposed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in collaboration with the ACC management,” Jay Shah quoted in an issued statement.

“However, it’s important to note that the leadership of the PCB underwent several changes, and this resulted in some back-and-forth negotiations, particularly regarding crucial aspects such as tax exemption and insurance for matches,” he added.

Jay Shah elaborated on the reservations regarding staging ODI matches in the UAE during September, underscoring the “increased risk of injuries.” He pointed out that the Asia Cup’s 2022 edition had been in T20 format, emphasizing the distinct dynamics between T20 and 100-over One-day formats.

“The Asia Cup 2022 edition was played in the UAE in the T20 format. It’s important to emphasize that the dynamics of a T20 tournament cannot be directly compared to those of a 100-over One-day format. In this context, ACC members received feedback from their respective high-performance teams, expressing concerns about playing One-day matches in the UAE in the month of September. Such a schedule could have potentially led to player fatigue and an increased risk of injuries, particularly right before the all-important ICC Cricket World Cup,” Shah further added.

Last Updated on September 6, 2023

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