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ICC won’t force BCCI to send Indian team to Pakistan for Champions Trophy, will ‘look for alternatives’ if needed

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UAE with three international stadiums ready for use, it could well be the second country in a ‘Hybrid Model’ in case India doesn’t want to travel to Pakistan.

ICC would not apply pressure on BCCI to send its team to Pakistan for the Champions Trophy in 2025 if the Indian government does not allow the same. An ICCI Board member said the parent body of cricket can even consider alternative options – the most prominent one being hosting the Champions Trophy in February-March next year in a hybrid model.

Last year’s Asia Cup was played in a hybrid model when India did not travel to Pakistan, the original host of the tournament. All of India’s group games and the final were played in Sri Lanka while the rest took place in Sri Lanka. It is still early days as far as the Champions Trophy is concerned but the idea of using UAE as a potential venue cannot be entirely discarded.

With February and March being two ideal months to play cricket in the UAE and three international stadiums ready for use, it could well be the second country in a ‘Hybrid Model’ in case India doesn’t want to travel to Pakistan. The eight teams are expected to be divided into two groups and India’s group matches could well be held in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

ICC doesn’t expect its members to go against government

An ICC Board member, who is privy to the developments, feels that any decision by BCCI will only be taken closer to the tournament, and once again, the idea of using UAE as a potential venue cannot be entirely discarded.

“Every member can raise concerns for discussion at Board meetings and then it would go to a vote. But if the government (of a member nation) expressly say that they can’t play there, ICC would need to look for an alternative,” a veteran administrator, who has attended multiple board meetings, told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

“….because ICC Board’s position remains that it doesn’t expect its members to go against any policy/instructions issued by its own government,” he said.

India and Pakistan’s bilateral cricketing ties have been severed since 2008. Although Pakistan did travel to India for a white-ball series in 2012, India haven’t visited their neighbours in close to a decade and a half. Notably, Pakistan also travelled to India during the 2011 ODI World Cup, the 2016 T20 World Cup and the ODI World Cup last year.

Teams from England, Australia, New Zealand have all travelled to Pakistan in recent past and the BCCI will also be under pressure to visit the strife-torn country for the multi-nation engagement. Asked if any hesitation from India would lead to a vote against the country, the source said such a situation would not arise if there is a government directive.

“Don’t forget threat perception for an Indian cricket team would always be higher compared to Australia, England and New Zealand,” said a former BCCI office-bearer, who is aware of the inner workings of the global body.

Will diplomacy work?

In January-February, the Indian Davis Cup team was in Islamabad for its World Group Play-off tie and the players as well as the support staff were satisfied with the security arrangements.

However, the stakes are considerably higher when it comes to the Indian cricket team featuring superstars like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant.

Also read: Ranchi Police Issues Notice To ED Officials After Ex-Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren’s FIR

“The BCCI would obviously be compelled to look at it from the point of view that Pakistan government allowed its team to play in the World Cup in India last year.

“So, this being a global event and not a continental one like Asia Cup, the Indian government might take a softer stance. BCCI president Roger Binny and VP Rajiv Shukla had travelled to Pakistan during the Asia Cup,” hoped the ICC board member.

source by : HT

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