The PCB’s proposed hybrid model for the Asia Cup is likely to be approved by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), with Sri Lanka as the neutral venue where India can play their games. The model sees four – and possibly five – of the tournament’s 13 games being played in Pakistan. All the India-Pakistan games will be played in Sri Lanka, as will the final if India is involved.
ESPNcricinfo understands an official announcement is likely after the weekend. The window set aside for the tournament currently is between September 1-17. For the Pakistan leg, the games are likely to be played in Lahore.
The likely approval represents a significant breakthrough in an impasse which has not only dragged on for some time but has also threatened fallout for ICC events, most pressingly the World Cup in India this year but also the 2025 Champions Trophy in Pakistan. There is a possibility now that an agreement here could ease Pakistan’s path to traveling to India for the World Cup.
The hybrid model was proposed as a solution due to India and Pakistan unwilling to travel to the other’s country. India’s refusal to tour Pakistan prompted Pakistan to go with this model in order to retain the hosting rights.
Pakistan initially offered UAE as a second venue citing the lucrative opportunity for gate receipts during Pakistan-India matches in the tournament, but Bangladesh raised concerns over the extreme weather in the middle east in September.
The PCB head Najam Sethi had presented details of the hybrid model to Pankaj Khimji, head of Oman Cricket and the ACC’s vice-president, in a meeting in Dubai a couple of weeks ago. It was the solution the PCB had proposed to account for the fact that India will not travel to Pakistan for the tournament because of ongoing political tensions between the governments of the two countries.
India and Pakistan have been grouped together along with Nepal in the six-nation Asia Cup, scheduled to be held in the 50-over format as preparation for the World Cup. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are in the other group.
A total of 13 matches, including the final, are expected be played across 13 days. Like the format from 2022, it is expected that the top two teams from each group will advance to a Super 4s round, before the top two teams from that contest the final. That leaves open the possibility of India and Pakistan playing each other three times, should they make the final.