Zaka Ashraf, the probable future Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), has rejected the Asia Cup Hybrid Model proposed by Najam Sethi and approved by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) with some amendments.
All the controversies surrounding the matter of the Asia Cup appeared to have been resolved. However, Zaka Ashraf, likely the upcoming Chairman of the PCB, issued a statement on Wednesday while speaking to media in Islamabad, stating that the Hybrid Model is unfair to Pakistan and he has rejected it.
“The first point is that I had rejected the hybrid model [for the Asia Cup] from the beginning because I disagree with it. The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) board had decided that the tournament should be held entirely in Pakistan. However, major matches are being held elsewhere, and only minor teams like Nepal will play in Pakistan. Injustice has been done to Pakistan,” said Zaka during a media interaction.
“As the hosts, the entire event [Asia Cup] should take place in Pakistan.”
Zaka Ashraf’s election to the top position in the PCB is expected since Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif appointed him as a member of the PCB Board of Governors. However, the election itself is yet to take place.
“If weak teams like Nepal and Afghanistan are the only ones playing their matches in Pakistan, then I firmly believe that the Hybrid Model is disadvantageous for Pakistan. I will make changes to the Hybrid Model accordingly,” he added.
“I am unaware of the decisions made by the previous management as I don’t have access to that information. I will go and see, and try to act in the best interest of Pakistan as quickly as possible,” he said.
“There are many pending issues, but I am not delving deep into them since I haven’t officially taken over,” he added, expressing his intention to engage with the Indian leadership.
As per reports cited in Indian media outlets, a senior board member of ACC ridiculed Zaka Ashraf’s statement while talking to Press Trust of India.
“He is a free man (Zaka Ashraf) and can say whatever he wants. The statement shows his mentality. ACC approved Hybrid Model for Asia Cup and it will be held as per schedule. No further changes and amendments will take place further on this matter, the file is closed.”
Previously, the management led by Najam Sethi was negotiating with the Secretary of the Indian board and ACC Chairman Jay Shah regarding the hosting rights of the Asia Cup 2023, which officially belonged to Pakistan. However, due to security concerns, BCCI and the Indian government dif not allow their team to travel to Pakistan. PCB then proposed two Hybrid Models. The first one was immediately rejected by broadcasters and the Indian Cricket Board. This model suggested that the Indian cricket team would play their matches at a neutral venue, which would be decided by the PCB, while the rest of the tournament would take place in Pakistan. The second Hybrid Model, proposed during the second meeting with official broadcasters (Star Sports) and Pankaj Khimji, Vice President of ACC, stated that the first four matches, excluding India’s matches, would be held in Pakistan, while the remainder of the tournament would be shifted to Dubai.
However, the other cricket boards rejected Dubai or the UAE as the neutral venue, and a decision was made for Sri Lanka to co-host the tournament with Pakistan.