Pakistan’s decision may, however, be shaped by the long-term animus in the subcontinent’s fractious politics
The overall success of the cricket World Cup is predicated upon the Pakistan government’s willingness to send its team to participate. Considering that the Pakistan football team was in India most recently to fulfil obligations in a multilateral event, there should be no reason to believe the Pakistan cricket team will not visit India.
Pakistan’s decision may, however, be shaped by the long-term animus in the subcontinent’s fractious politics. Also, to be factored in is the BCCI’s refusal to send a team to Pakistan if Team India’s Asia Cup matches were to be held there.
As one of the richest federations in world sport, the BCCI does not feel obliged to explain anything to anyone, even in such a case as the bizarre distribution of matches in the World Cup of 2023, a competition to be hosted wholly by the BCCI for the first time.
Mohali, situated in Punjab, hosted the India-Pakistan 2011 semi-final while air force jets were on standby and antiaircraft guns were in position to ward off possible security threats. The venue finds no place in the schedule featuring 10 cities, some of which will be hosting as many as five games.
The BCCI, run mostly by politicians in power since taking over from princely figures and industrial magnates, has always been governed by politics and spheres of influence. With the stadium infra for international cricket having expanded exponentially, it would be impossible to satisfy all demands. Even so, the picking of venues has not been so much whimsical as governed by a random index of influence of administrators.
For instance, take Dharamsala. A Test match was recently shifted out of there as the outfield was not ready. The venue, picturesque no doubt but at a far higher altitude (4,790 feet) than all other stadiums, gets four games. This has obviously to do with Dharamsala’s connections to a former BCCI chief who is in the Union Cabinet. So too is the recent rise of Ahmedabad as a venue of importance, though its facilities are first rate and its spectator capacity, at above one lakh, unmatched.
The player-friendly new stadium in Thiruvananthapuram finds no place, so too Indore or Ranchi, which got a stadium inspired by MS Dhoni’s spectacular cricket career. The point is the BCCI will be guided by politics, influence, and personalities wielding them rather than on cricketing or natural justice principles. And that is a fact, as much as the fat bank balance is of the BCCI, with the ICC forced to act as its faithful lackey. Money makes the mare go, they say.