Cricket: India’s refusal to tour Pakistan for Asia Cup 2023 dampens spirits

India's Virat Kohli bats during the T20 match between India and Pakistan

Pakistan is gearing up to host just four out of 13 matches of the Asia Cup cricket tournament due to India’s refusal to tour the country. This marks a significant change from 2008 when the entire tournament was played in Pakistan. The decision to reduce Pakistan’s hosting rights was attributed to “political tensions” between the two nations.

Pakistan was awarded the hosting rights for the 2023 Asia Cup but India refused to tour the country due to political tensions between the two nations. This led to a hybrid model where only 4 of the 13 matches will be played in Pakistan, with the rest being hosted by Sri Lanka.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is disappointed with the decision but says it is the best they could do under the circumstances. Pakistan was awarded Asia Cup hosting rights in 2021 by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).

It would have been the first major multilateral tournament to be hosted by the country in years and suggested evidence of growing normalcy across the cricketing landscape as international teams returned to the country after the 2009 gun attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.

But the PCB was in for a shock when, exactly a year later, Jay Shah, secretary for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the president of the ACC, said India would not travel to Pakistan for the tournament, citing “political tensions” between the two nations.

The Asia Cup is a major cricket tournament that is held every two years. It is the second-most important cricket tournament in Asia after the Cricket World Cup. India is the most successful team in Asia Cup history, having won the tournament 13 times. Pakistan has won the tournament five times.

The 2023 Asia Cup is scheduled to be held from August 27 to September 11.

The PCB has said that they will still be marketing the tournament in Pakistan and that they are confident that fans will still turn up to watch the matches. However, the decision by India to not tour Pakistan has dampened the spirits of many cricket fans in Asia.

The PCB has also said that they will be working with the BCCI to try and find a way to get India to tour Pakistan in the future. However, it is unclear if this will be possible, given the current political tensions between the two countries.

The decision by India to not tour Pakistan is a setback for cricket in the region. It is also a reminder of the political challenges that the sport faces in South Asia.