Asia Cup under fresh trouble? PCB's likely new chief rejects 'hybrid model'

The regional tournament fell under latest doubts after controversial comments from PCB's incoming chief against the model proposed by the previous regime. 
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Even as outgoing chairman Najam Sethi stood delighted when his regime's proposed 'hybrid model' for the Asia Cup 2023 finally got approved by the ACC board, Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) likely new chief Zaka Ashraf has a passionate stance against the idea and believes the regional tournament had to remain entirely within the PCB territory. 

Ashraf believes the previous PCB regime led by Sethi let Pakistan cricket down by falling to a compromised arrangement for the Asia Cup, with Pakistan adhering to India's demand for a neutral venue and accepting that only four of the scheduled 13 matches will not be held in Sri Lanka. 

All of India's games will be played in the Island nation while Pakistan gets to host only four of their own matches, including a group outing versus rising associates Nepal. While the ACC, whose president, notably, is the secretary of the BCCI - Jay Shah - has firmed up the hybrid model as the only option for Pakistan to host matches of the Asia Cup, if Ashraf is appointed, the PCB and the Indian board will once again stand on a collision course.

According to the PTI, Ashraf has been handpicked by Pakistan PM Shahbaz Sharif as one of the "two nominees" to replace Sethi. Sharif's appointment, then, is only a formality as per the PCB constitution. 

Asia Cup 2023 faces fresh troubles amidst PCB changeover 

"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 in a press briefing. 

"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 added. 

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Speaking to the PTI, however, an ACC board member brushed comments made by the would-be PCB chairman, saying he is free to express his views but the decision for the regional tournament has been made officially. 

"The Asia Cup model has been accepted by ACC and there would be no change. Ashraf is free to say whatever he wants," the official said even as Ashraf's remarks seemed to have put the Asia Cup and even the 2023 World Cup under fresh doubts.