PCB writes to Pakistan government, seeks clearance to travel to India for World Cup

Lahore [Pakistan] : The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has written to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the country’s Interior and the Foreign Ministry for official clearance to travel to India for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in October-November, according to ESPNcricinfo.

The letter asked for advice on whether the Pakistan team was allowed to travel to India, and if so, if there are any reservations about any of the five venues earmarked for hosting games featuring the Men in Green. The PCB also sought to know if the Pakistani government wants to send a security delegation to assess the facilities and arrangements before clearing the team’s visit to India for the showpiece event. Even as cricketing ties between the arch-rivals have been hostage to the strained bilateral relations between the two countries, the PCB, on June 26, wrote to the government seeking permission to travel to India for the World Cup.

The PCB also forwarded Pakistan’s schedule for the World Cup to the government, informing them that the team will play its nine matches in five cities, including a keenly-anticipated clash against India in Ahmedabad on October 15. “Soon after the World Cup schedule was announced last Tuesday, we wrote to our Patron, Honourable Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, through the Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ministry, copying the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Interior, requesting clearance to participate in the World Cup,” the PCB told ESPNcricinfo. “The decision to visit India and approve venues at which we can play our matches is the prerogative of the Government of Pakistan. We have absolute trust in the judgment of our government and will follow whatever is advised. It is entirely up to the Government of Pakistan the process it wants to formulate and follow before advising us on the next steps. If this requires sending an advance team to India to inspect the venues and hold meetings with the event organisers, then it will solely be the government’s decision,” it added.

Pakistan have not visited India since the 2016 men’s T20 World Cup. Last year, there was much speculation around the participation of both teams in the Asia Cup and World Cup, to be hosted by Pakistan (originally) and India, respectively. PCB proposed a hybrid model for the Asia Cup where India gets to play all of its matches at some neutral venue, which later turned out to be Sri Lanka.

Last month, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) announced a hybrid model for the upcoming Asia Cup 2023, with Pakistan set to host four matches out of 13, while the remaining nine games will be played in Sri Lanka. The two teams haven’t played against each other in any bilateral series for over ten years, and face off only at the ICC and ACC tournaments. It is anticipated that since the current Pakistani government’s term is set to expire in August, any decision about the team’s trip to India would probably be postponed until the new administration enters office. At this time, it’s unlikely that the present administration will make an official declaration. The 2016 situation can repeat when Nawaz Sharif’s government gave the team a last-minute clearance to travel after sending a delegation to India for security assessment.

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