New Delhi: If all goes well, one could see cricketers from India and Pakistan teaming up in a rebooted version of the Afro-Asia Cup in mid-2023. The Afro-Asia Cup hadn't been played after 2005 and 2007 while India and Pakistan haven't played a bilateral series since 2012/13 and haven't faced off in a Test series since 2007. The two teams now face each other only in ICC tournaments, barring the World Test Championship (WTC).
Now, according to a report on Forbes.com, players from India and Pakistan could be playing in the same team with the Afro-Asia Cup set to make a comeback in the T20 format in June-July 2023. Nothing is confirmed about how the tournament will happen.
But discussions for the same are understood to be going on between BCCI Honorary Secretary Jay Shah, the new chairman of African Cricket Association Sumod Damodar, and ACC chairman of development committee Mahinda Vallipu-ram, who is also an Associate Member director on the ICC board, from the ICC Board Meeting in April this year.
"We haven't got confirmation from the boards yet. We are still working on the white paper and it will be submitted to both boards. But our plan is for the best players from India and Pakistan to be playing in the Asian XI. Once plans are finalized we will go into the market for sponsorship and a broadcaster. It will be a massive event. Really, really big," ACC head of commercial and events Prabhakaran Thanraj was quoted as saying in the report. Damodar, too, feels the same about the prospect of getting India and Pakistan players in one team under the Afro-Asia Cup. "I would love to see the opportunity to build the bridge and allow the players to play together. I'm sure the players want it to happen and to keep the politics away from it. It would be a beautiful thing to see players from Pakistan and India playing on the same team." The report further said that a plan is there for the Afro-Asia Cup to become an annual affair and give chances to players from Associate nations. Apart from this tournament, ACC wants to grow by introducing the U16, U19 Afro-Asia Cups, U19 Women's Asia Cup, U13 and U16 Asia Junior Cup and ACC West and East Cups for Associates to qualify for Asia Cups.
"The Afro-Asia Cup is a premium product and from a revenue perspective, that's where we would generate more income. What we pump back can go back to the members, particularly in Africa which needs more support. Africa has a lot to benefit from because Asia is a powerhouse. It's a relationship I was keen to foster and develop," concluded Damodar.—IANS