Pakistan’s foreign office has confirmed it is evaluating all aspects of Pakistan’s participation in the upcoming ODI World Cup in India. This is the first public indication from the Pakistan government about taking up an issue that has been pending for a while and has even resulted in a delay in the ICC announcing the tournament’s fixtures list.
“We have received the official invitation from the Indian prime minister to our prime minister for the virtual meeting of the heads of state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation that is due to take place on the 4th of July,” a spokesperson for the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, said in a weekly media briefing in Islamabad. “Pakistan will be represented at the summit. We will be making an announcement regarding our participation in the coming days.
“Regarding cricket, Pakistan is of the view that politics should not be mixed with sports. India’s policy of not playing cricket in Pakistan is disappointing. We are observing and evaluating all aspects relating to our participation in the World Cup including the security situation for Pakistani cricketers and we will offer our views to PCB in due course.”
The 2023 World Cup, as reported by ESPNcricinfo, is slated to begin on October 5. The India vs Pakistan fixture is set for ten days later in Ahmedabad. It is one of five venues that Pakistan are scheduled to play at during the league phase.
Due to strained political relations between the two countries, Pakistan have not toured India since the 2016 T20 World Cup, and even back then there was uncertainty around Pakistan coming to India. The PCB had threatened to pull out of the tournament unless they had clear and public assurance from the Indian government about the security to be provided to their players. These negotiations eventually resulted in the India-Pakistan match having to be shifted from Dharamsala to Kolkata.
The PCB has requested the ICC to swap venues for two of their league matches in the 2023 ODI World Cup based on an internal assessment of the grounds they are due to play at. Pakistan are currently scheduled to play Australia in Bengaluru on October 20, and then Afghanistan in Chennai on October 23 but have asked for a change where they play Afghanistan in Bengaluru and Australia in Chennai. The request has been turned down. Normally, security is the primary reason for a venue change at an ICC event. There was no mention of a security threat in the PCB’s internal assessment.
Given the already unprecedented delay – World Cup itineraries usually go out a year in advance – the ICC is hoping to finalise the fixture list and provide it to the public by next week. Pakistan have until then to relay their concerns, if any.