India cricket team, Photo: Twitter/BCCI
A long-term lucrative media rights deal between the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and the broadcaster could be in jeopardy if a solution is not found quickly to break the deadlock between India and Pakistan on the issue of hosting of the Asia Cup.
The Asia Cup has been allotted to Pakistan but due to the prevailing political tensions between the neighbours, BCCI has said India will not send its team for the tournament in September and would rather want the continental event be moved to the UAE or Sri Lanka.
However, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has so far not agreed to the demand, leading to a stalemate.
In the event of India withdrawing from the Asia Cup in Pakistan, the tournament will lose its sheen and the broadcaster could incur heavy losses with no riveting India-Pakistan clashes.
A source said that under the long-term agreement between the ACC and the broadcaster, it is mandatory that Pakistan and India play each other at least twice, or thrice, in the regional multi-team event.
"It is not possible to have the Asia Cup without Pakistan and India matches. This is the understanding on which the agreement is based," the source said.
He said the broadcasters have been guaranteed that the arch-rivals will play at least twice before the final as it happened during the Asia Cup in 2022 in the UAE.
"Without Pakistan and India matches, the broadcasting agreement goes awry," he warned.
The source added that during the last ACC executive board meeting, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief, Najam Sethi, had made it clear that Pakistan wants to host the tournament, and they were willing to give all security guarantees to the participating teams, including India.
"Sethi has not said that the PCB could consider being hosts and split the matches between venues in Pakistan and UAE to allow India to play in UAE," the source said.
There have been suggestions that while other participating countries can play in Pakistan, the big-ticket India-Pakistan clash could be moved to the UAE. And if India and Pakistan make it to the final, the summit clash should be held in the UAE.
"This is not an option right now for Pakistan unless something changes at the next ACC board meeting on the sidelines of the ICC meeting in March," the source added.
A worst-case scenario could be a tit-for-tat reaction, where if India does not send its team to Pakistan, the PCB could consider the option of not playing in the Asia Cup or not travelling to India for the World Cup later this year.
A PCB official said there is a force de majeure clause in the Asia Cup participating nations agreement, which allows for the shifting of the tournament, but that is dependent on the host country.
"In 2018, India moved the Asia Cup to the UAE because of elections in their country (and) not because Pakistan said it wouldn't go to India for the event. So what happened in 2018 does not apply in the present scenario," the source said.
With the 50-over World Cup scheduled in October-November this year, the significance of the Asia Cup has increased as all the participating continental teams in the ICC event would be keen to have the Asia Cup before the mega competition.
"Let us see what India brings to the table at the next meeting and we will (take it) from there," another board official said.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
First Published: Feb 18 2023 | 6:00 PM IST