PCB's likely chairman Zaka Ashraf rejects hybrid model for Asia Cup

By Press Trust of India: The likely new chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Zaka Ashraf has rejected his predecessor Najam Sethi's much-publicised "hybrid model" for the upcoming Asia Cup, which is slated to be held in Pakistan and Sri Lanka in September.

"The first point is that I had rejected the hybrid model (for Asia Cup) in the past itself - because I do not agree with it. The board of the Asian Cricket Council had decided that it should be held in Pakistan, then we should host it," Ashraf said during a press conference in the Pakistan capital on Wednesday.

Ashraf's comments could also put Pakistan's World Cup participation in a limbo and it is expected that the BCCI will also play hardball and there wouldn't be any middle ground if they back-track from what was agreed upon by members of Asian Cricket Council (ACC). With the ACC executive body approving the hybrid model, if Ashraf doesn't change his stand, the Asia Cup could be held without Pakistan as a five-nation tournament.

"The Asia Cup model has been accepted by ACC and there would be no change. Ashraf is free to say whatever he wants," an ACC board member told PTI.

Ashraf is one of the two nominees for the PCB chairman's post handpicked by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is the patron-in-chief of the board and the man who has the final say in appointment. As of now, Ashraf's appointment is just a formality. The hybrid model was accepted by the ACC, headed by BCCI boss Jay Shah, after India made it clear that it won't travel to Pakistan due to the prevailing geo-political situation.

It was decided that four games will be held in Pakistan with the host country playing their group league match against Nepal and three other games involving Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan would also be scheduled in Lahore. However, things changed dramatically in the last 48 hours after Sethi announced on twitter that he is quitting.

"I don't want to be a bone of contention between Asif Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif. Such instability and uncertainty is not good for PCB. Under the circumstances I am not a candidate for Chairmanship of PCB. Good luck to all stakeholders," Sethi had tweeted. Ashraf, a banker by profession, has earlier been the PCB chairman.

During his media interaction, Ashraf said that he doesn't like the idea of inconsequential games being held in their country when they have got hosting rights. "All the main matches are happening outside (of Pakistan). (Teams like) Nepal and Bhutan are going to play in Pakistan - which is not fair for Pakistan. I do not know what the board has decided previously, I do not have the access to the information."

"I will check, whatever is doable in the shortest possible time, will do that for the betterment of Pakistan," he said. Ashraf also said that the World Cup issue is yet to be sorted which could mean that the release of schedule will be delayed further.

"There are challenges lined up ahead for Pakistan, there are many pending issues, the Asia Cup is there, then the World Cup, the team's preparations, a lot of issues. I do not want to speak against anyone because I have not (yet) taken over," Ashraf said while not wanting to say anything about Sethi.

"Once I take over, will see what the scenario is. I always take media along, I do not hide anything. We have to work for the betterment of Pakistan, we have a clear conscious."

It is understood that Pakistan's demands to play World Cup matches at a neutral venue will not be accepted by either the BCCI or the ICC at any cost, and now Ashraf's tough stance on Asia Cup could spoil relations further. It may be noted that the last time India and Pakistan were engaged in a bilateral series in 2012, Ashraf was the PCB chairman.


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