“It’s not as if we don’t have hosting rights and we’re pleading to host it,” Ramiz said on the sidelines of the Pakistan-England Test in Rawalpindi. “We won the rights fair and square. If India doesn’t come, they won’t come. If the Asia Cup gets taken away from Pakistan, maybe we’re the ones that pull out.”
India’s previous trip to Pakistan was in 2008, for the Asia Cup, while Pakistan last came to India for the 2016 T20 World Cup. Owing to strained political relations, there has been no bilateral cricket between the countries since Pakistan toured India in 2012-13 for a white-ball series, and the teams have only played each other at ACC and ICC events. They played each other twice during the 2022 Asia Cup in the UAE and once in the T20 World Cup in Melbourne in October.
“We’ve shown we can host great teams,” Ramiz said. “I can understand issues relating to bilateral cricket, but the Asia Cup is a multi-nation tournament, almost as big as the World Cup for the Asian bloc.
“Why give it to us in the first place and then make all those statements about India not travelling to Pakistan? I accept that India won’t come because the government won’t allow them to come – fine. But to take the Asia Cup away from the host on that basis isn’t right.”
Raja said that moving next year’s Asia Cup from Pakistan to a neutral venue would be “caving in” to political circumstances, and that efforts should be made to play bilaterally and in both countries.
“Common sense,” Raja told BBC’s Test Match Special, when asked what it would take for India to play in Pakistan. “There is no contest if India and Pakistan are not playing. I have mentioned it so many times. I have always been loved in India; I’ve done so many IPL editions. I know the fans want to see India against Pakistan.
“You saw what happened in the World Cup – 90,000 fans turned up [at MCG]. I am just a little disappointed with the ICC. When the point was put to the FIFA president why is the US playing Iran, Iran has so many issues regarding women’s rights, he picked up the football and said this can solve a lot of issues. Through sport we can take care of the tribe mentality. I feel let bat and ball talk.”
“What happens if the government of Pakistan doesn’t allow Pakistan to travel to India because of security issues?” Ramiz said, when asked if he was worried about the ramifications of a pull out. “It is quite an emotional subject here. The debate was started by BCCI in a way. We had to respond. Test cricket needs India v Pakistan.”
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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