Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani has said that they will not hold back against pushing the ICC to relocate the upcoming T20 World Cup outside India if the hosts do not assure visas to the Pakistani players, fans and journalists. Notably, the seventh edition of the ICC T20 World Cup is slated to be played in India later in the year. This will be the first time since 2016 that the event happens in the country.
The T20 tournament was earlier scheduled to be played in Australia but had to be pushed back owing to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. Australia will now host the event in 2021 with India getting the opportunity to organise the event this year. However, it is the visa situation that concerns PCB. The political relations between India and Pakistan continue to remain tensed and both countries have not played a bilateral cricket series since the Men in Green toured India in 2012-13.
Ever since the countries have only played each other in ICC events and the Asia Cup. The relation between the two countries further worsened in 2019 following the Pulwama attack and could become even more ugly if the players and fans are not granted visa for the T20 World Cup.
PCB chief wants tournament relocated
The Pakistan Cricket Board are prepping itself for the worst thing possible. The PCB chief revealed that they are mulling to try and convince ICC to get the tournament organised at a neutral venue where it will not have any visa problems. They want the event to be held in UAE in case the Indian government does not guarantee them visas.
“There is a need to change the ‘Big Three’. We are not seeking written assurance for the visas of the national team only, but for the fans, officials and journalists as well. We have told the ICC that India should give written assurances by the end of March so that we know where we stand or we will push for the relocation of the World Cup from India to UAE,” Ehsan Mani told reporters on Saturday.
Not the first case of tournament relocation due to IND-PAK relations
This is not the first instance of a tournament being relocated due to the political relations of India and Pakistan. Earlier, the Asia Cup had to be relocated from India to the UAE in 2018. Last year too, the venue for the Asia Cup was shifted from Pakistan to Sri Lanka owing to the same reason but the tournament did not happen because of the pandemic. It remains to be seen what happens this time around but it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the marquee event is shifted elsewhere.