‘We also demand same for our World Cup games’: Pakistan Sports minister on India playing Asia Cup at neutral venue

The minister in-charge of sports in Pakistan, Ehsaan Mazari, has expressed his disappointment over BCCI’s stance on playing the Asia Cup at a neutral venue, saying that they would also demand the same for Babar Azam-led side’s ODI World Cup games in India if Rohit Sharma’s side doesn’t travel across the border for the Asian cricket tournament.

The minister in-charge of sports in Pakistan, Ehsaan Mazari, has expressed his disappointment over BCCI’s stance on playing the Asia Cup at a neutral venue, saying that they would also demand the same for Babar Azam-led side’s ODI World Cup games in India if Rohit Sharma’s side doesn’t travel across the border for the Asian cricket tournament.

Mazari’s statement comes a day after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif formed a committee to deliberate on Pakistan’s participation in the World Cup in India.

The upcoming ODI World Cup is scheduled to take place from October 5 to November 19. However, there is a lack of clarity on whether the Pakistan team would travel to India to participate in the marquee tournament,

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According to the World Cup schedule released by ICC, Pakistan will play their World Cup matches at five venues: Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata.

“My personal opinion, since the Pakistan Cricket Board comes under my ministry, is that if India demands to play their Asia Cup games at a neutral venue, we would also demand the same for our World Cup games in India,” Mazari told Indian Express.

“The committee will be headed by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and I am among the 11 ministers who are part of it. We will discuss the issue and give our recommendations to the PM, who is also the patron-in-chief of PCB. The PM will take the final decision,” he added.

The BCCI and PCB had clashed for months regarding the venue for the Asia Cup, which was originally planned to take place entirely in Pakistan. However, due to India’s reluctance about traveling to Pakistan, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) finally approved a hybrid model and the Asia Cup will be held in both Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Mazari, however, conveyed his dissatisfaction regarding the suggested ‘hybrid’ model for the continental meet.

“Pakistan is the host, it has the right to hold all the matches in Pakistan. That is what the cricket lovers want, I don’t want a hybrid model,” he said.

He further said it perplexing that India is hesitant to participate in cricket matches held in Pakistan.

“India brings sports into politics. I don’t understand why the Indian government doesn’t want to send their cricket team here. Some time back a huge baseball contingent from India was in Islamabad to play. There was also the bridge team that had travelled to Pakistan. There were around 60 plus people, I was the chief guest of the event. They won here and left. Pakistan’s football, hockey and chess teams also travel to India,” Mazari said.

Mazari referred to other teams that have visited Pakistan, while speaking about the BCCI’s cited “security concern” of their players in the neighboring country.

“The New Zealand team was here, before that the England cricket team was in Pakistan. They got presidential security. Earlier, the Indian team was given a hearty welcome by the fans here. Security is an excuse. We also held the Pakistan Super League (PSL) that had so many foreign players,” he said.

(IANS)

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