Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistani cricket authorities hinted Wednesday they may pull out of next year’s World Cup in India, a day after officials there said they would not send a team to the 2023 Asia Cup in Pakistan.
Indian cricket board secretary Jay Shah – who is also president of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) – said Tuesday that India “can’t” send a team to Pakistan, adding the tournament would be moved to a neutral venue.
His announcement caught Pakistan by surprise, with officials warning it could “split” the international cricket community.
Despite being considered one of sport’s greatest rivalries, India and Pakistan have not met on home soil in any version of the game since 2012, and only play each other in multinational tournaments on neutral grounds.
The two nations have fought three wars since being carved out of the subcontinent’s partition in 1947 and are bitter political rivals.
“The Asia Cup will be held at a neutral venue,” Shah told reporters in Mumbai Tuesday following a meeting of the Board for Control of Indian Cricket (BCCI).
“I am saying this as ACC president. We can’t go there (to Pakistan), they can’t come here.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) reacted angrily on Wednesday.
“The PCB has noted with surprise and disappointment yesterday’s comments made by the ACC President Mr Shah with regards to shifting of next year’s Asia Cup to a neutral venue,” it said.
“The comments were made without any discussion or consultation with the board of the ACC or the PCB, and without any thoughts towards their long-term consequences and implications.”
“The overall impact of such statements have the potential to split the Asian and international cricketing communities,” the PCB added.
The Pakistan board said it has not received any official communication from the ACC, and noted that hosting rights for the 2023 Asia Cup had been given to Pakistan under Shah’s leadership.
“Mr Shah’s statement of shifting of the ACC Asia Cup has clearly been made unilaterally,” the PCB said, and called for an emergency meeting of the Asian Board “as soon as practically possible on this important and sensitive matter”.
The PCB said Shah’s comments “can impact Pakistan’s visit to India for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 and future ICC Events in India in the 2024-2031 cycle”.
Pakistan and India are due to meet Sunday in Melbourne in the Twenty20 World Cup.
The news from India sparked anger in cricket-mad Pakistan, including from former captain Shahid Afridi, who said the players had worked hard over the last two years to develop “excellent comradery”.
“Why BCCI Secy will make this statement on the eve of #T20WorldCup match?” he tweeted.
“Reflects lack of cricket administration experience in India.”