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India refuses to play in Pakistan for Asia Cup

India captain Virat Kohli and Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed hold the ICC Champions Trophy ahead of the final at The Kia Oval on June 17, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has said India will not play in Pakistan in this year’s Asia Cup tournament, although is prepared to take part if games are played on ‘neutral’ territory.

Pakistan is hosting the tournament in September, just ahead of the International Cricket Council T20 World Cup in Australia in October and November.

Indian news service Business Standard reported that a BCCI source told the media: “The question isn’t about the PCB hosting the tournament. It is about the venue and, as things stand now, it is quite clear that we would need a neutral venue. There is no way that an Indian team can visit Pakistan to even participate in a multi-nation event like the Asia Cup. If the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) is OK with an Asia Cup minus India then it is a different ball game. But if India is to participate in the Asia Cup, then the venue cannot be Pakistan.”

Earlier this week, Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan appeared ready to accept a neutral venue for India games, if directed by regional governing body the Asian Cricket Council. News website Insidesport.co reported he said: “Since we have been awarded hosting rights, we fully expect the Asia Cup to happen in Pakistan. The ACC will then need to make a decision as to where they will play the India games.”

In the days prior to this, Khan appeared to tell local media that Pakistan would pull out of the 2021 T20 World Cup in India in response to India’s Asia Cup stance. Khan later said his comments had been taken out of context and Pakistan remained committed to next year’s tournament.

The Asia Cup issue is not without precedent. The 2018 Asia Cup was moved from India to the United Arab Emirates, one of the reasons being that Pakistan players would have struggled to get visas to play in India.

The Asia Cup was launched by the ACC in 1984, and currently takes place every two years. It involves either one-day international or T20 matches. This year’s edition is to involve T20 matches and is to be contested by six teams – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.