Pakistan still has “deep concerns” about security; no decision yet on whether they will play India in Ahmedabad
Pakistan will send their cricket team to India for the 2023 men’s ODI World Cup in October-November this year, ending months of uncertainty over the country’s participation.
“Pakistan has consistently maintained that sports should not be mixed with politics,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. “It has, therefore, decided to send its cricket team to India to participate in the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. Pakistan believes that the state of bilateral relations with India should not stand in the way of fulfilling its international sports-related obligations.
“Pakistan’s decision shows its constructive and responsible approach vis-à-vis India’s intransigent attitude, as the latter had refused to send its cricket team to Pakistan for the Asia Cup.
While the statement effectively guarantees Pakistan will participate in the World Cup, it also suggested significant areas of divergence remain. ESPNcricinfo understands Pakistan has not yet taken a decision on whether they will agree to participate in the group stage game against India in Ahmedabad, or demand to have it moved elsewhere. The statement, however, does not mention a desire for a change of venue.
The statement also signalled a lack of complete confidence in the security arrangements for Pakistan at the World Cup. “Pakistan, however, has deep concerns about the security of its cricket team,” the statement said further. “We are conveying these concerns to the International Cricket Council and the Indian authorities. We expect that full safety and security of Pakistan cricket team will be ensured during its visit to India.”
ESPNcricinfo understands the PCB will reach out to the ICC for security guarantees once there is more clarity on arrangements.
The World Cup schedule has been hit by several delays and tweaks. Pakistan’s fixture against India was brought forward by a day to avoid a clash with the Hindu festival of Navaratri. That created a knock-on effect, with Pakistan’s earlier game against Sri Lanka on October 12 moved to October 10 to give them enough time to prepare, arrangements that the PCB agreed to. The PCB accepted those date changes to their fixtures.
On Saturday, ESPNcricinfo reported that the Cricket Association of Bengal had requested the BCCI to have Pakistan’s game against England movedfrom November 12 to November 11, to avoid a clash with another Hindu festival, Kali Puja.
The PCB has privately expressed frustration at the potential change of date for the England fixture, and the constant rejigging of fixtures affecting Pakistan. It is understood there has been no communication between the PCB and the BCCI about the fixture change, and no clarity on when a decision will be reached or how it will be communicated to the PCB.
The World Cup is scheduled to begin with reigning champions England taking on New Zealand On October 5, and end on November 19, but there is still no update on when the tickets will go on sale.