The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday warned that Asian Cricket Council (ACC) President Jay Shah “unilaterally” issued a statement that Asia Cup 2023 being moved from Pakistan could “split” cricketing communities and “impact” Pakistan’s own plans to travel to India for ICC Cricket World Cup 2023.

Shah, who is also the Indian cricket board’s secretary, had a day earlier ruled out the possibility of the Indian cricket team visiting Pakistan for the continental tournament, saying that they had decided to hold the tournament at a neutral venue.

“Neutral venue for the Asia Cup is not unprecedented, and we have decided that we will not travel to Pakistan,” Hindustan Times quoted Shah as saying following the 91st annual general meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

“It’s the government that decides over the permission of our team visiting Pakistan, so we won’t comment on that but for the 2023 Asia Cup, it is decided that the tournament will be held at a neutral venue,” he added.

Pakistan is scheduled to host the 50-over Asia Cup in the second half of 2023, following which the World Cup will take place in India.

The PCB, in a press release issued on Wednesday, expressed its “surprise and disappointment” at Shah’s comments, and called for the ACC to “convene an emergency meeting of its Board as soon as practically possible” as no official communication had been made yet from the ACC to the PCB on the “sensitive matter”.

It further highlighted that the statement had been made “without any discussion or consultation” with the Board of the ACC or even the PCB, which was to host the tournament.

The PCB also stressed in the press release that Shah’s statements were “made unilaterally” and went against the “philosophy and spirit” of the ACC.

It hinted at the consequences of such statements by alerting that they could impact Pakistan’s visit to India for the ICC Cricket World Cup and any future ICC events till 2031.

“Pakistan was awarded the ACC Asia Cup with an overwhelming support and response from the ACC Board members,” the PCB press release noted.

The statements by Shah were a surprise as Pakistan has successfully hosted cricket teams from both Australia and England this year.

Sources close to the PCB, including chairman Ramiz Raja, had previously told Dawn that if the Asia Cup was to be moved, “Pakistan will adopt a similar policy by pulling out of the ODI World Cup that is to be held in India next year.”

Another source close to Raja had said that the “PCB will consider withdrawing from the ACC membership” as staying in it is “useless” if Pakistan’s interests are not being protected.

Former PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf said that the Indian government had forced out Sourav Ganguly as BCCI president and replaced him with Roger Binny with the purpose to have its policy towed.

“It was an indication that the Indian government’s hand-picked man will take a decision against Pakistan on political grounds so the PCB should be active to mobilise its lobby around the world,” Ashraf added.

Another former PCB chairman Khalid Mahmood had advised for a strict response by saying, “If the hosting rights are taken away, Pakistan should not participate in the Asia Cup at all.”

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