Pakistan hesitant about Asia Cup participation
Even after Asian Cricket Council’s (ACC) decision to go ahead with holding the upcoming edition of the Asia Cup in Bangladesh, Pakistan has repeatedly refused to commit itself to participation in the continental tournament.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will assess the security situation alongside laying down several conditions, effectively indicating that there is no guarantee that it will take part, Indian newspaper The Times of India reports quoting sources at the board.
The Asia Cup is slated to be held from February 25 to March 7 in Dhaka.
"Pakistan will have to assess the developing situation carefully before confirming its participation if the matches are held in Bangladesh," the newspaper quoted a high level PCB official close to Pakistan board interim president Najam Sethi.
He also termed the situation in Bangladesh as adverse to the Pakistan cricket team.
On Saturday, ACC decided to go ahead with the tournament in Bangladesh despite reports of nationwide political clashes in the country.
Reports also said the situation in Bangladesh is volatile as Sunday's parliamentary election was marred by violence and protests.
The PCB has expressed its concerns over anti-Pakistani sentiments prevailing in Bangladesh and said it cannot ignore the threat perception to its team in Dhaka.
The Pakistan board has also revealed that the country's foreign office is as much concerned.
"PCB and Pakistan foreign office cannot ignore the particular nature of the security threat to the Pakistan team if it is asked to play in the sort of civil strife circumstances that prevail in Bangladesh today," the official told the newspaper.
The official also linked the lack of commitment on Pakistan’s part over political sentiments in Bangladesh regarding the execution of Quader Mollah, a religious leader who was recently executed by the Bangladesh government.
"Unlike other teams, there are anti-Pakistan protests relating to the case of Quader Mollah," the official stated.
The ACC, led by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), however, is confident Pakistan will participate in the tournament.
The continental tournament will now be a five-team contest as Afghanistan has been invited to participate in it.
Previously, only four teams - India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh besides Pakistan - used to participate.
"The PCB was a party to the decision of the ACC and the Pakistan board has not objected to the decision," ACC chief executive Ashraful Huq said on Saturday.
"That is our understanding. We're hopeful that Pakistan will take part," a BCCI official added.