CHENNAI: The BCCI and Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) are set to approach the International Cricket Council for international status to three T20 matches featuring Asia XI and World XI to be held in Dhaka and Ahmedabad in March next year.
The series, which was originally conceived by the BCB to mark the birth centenary of Bangladesh’s first Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was supposed to feature players from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere, with two matches taking place in Dhaka. But with the BCCI now planning to host one match in Ahmedabad’s new stadium, all eyes are on whether Pakistani players will undertake the journey across the border for the India leg.
When the BCCI proposed the idea of day-night Test to BCB, it was understood that releasing Indian players for the T20s was part of the deal. This was put forward at the BCCI AGM on Sunday, where the BCB’s request to allow Indian players was accepted. While it isn’t clear if the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma will be part of series, the BCCI has informed the BCB that top players will go. But complicating things is the fact that India are scheduled to play an ODI against South Africa in Kolkata on March 18, the same day BCB has slotted the first T20 between Asia XI and World XI.
Ahmedabad’s under-construction stadium, which will be the biggest in the world in terms of capacity, will be ready by February. The Gujarat Cricket Association wants to make the occasion a grand one by hosting an Asia XI vs World XI fixture. While the BCB has reportedly reached out to PCB for Pakistani players, getting the same set of players to play on Indian soil may be a complicated affair.
As things stand, players from Pakistan are not allowed to be in India for bilateral series. The rule changes if it’s part of a global event. Recently, the Indian Davis Cup team refused to play in Pakistan and the tie was held in a neutral venue. If BCB gets Pakistan players to play in Dhaka, it remains to be seen what happens when the action shifts to Ahmedabad.
Sources tracking developments told this newspaper that the chances of Pakistani players performing in Ahmedabad are remote. As of the now, the BCCI is still to decide whether to approach the government on this. “Since the BCCI will be hosting the third match, there is no need to have continuity. Since India would have completed the ODIs against South Africa, the initial plan was to send five players to Bangladesh depending upon workload. For the match in Ahmedabad, we can make changes, but the understanding is the core of Asia XI and World XI remains the same,” an official told this newspaper.
There is also no clarity with regards to whether the Ahmedabad T20 will be part of the centenary celebrations. “The BCB wants it to be a three-match series including the one in Ahmedabad. We have to see how we go about it since GCA wants to make it their occasion. Things will get clear in the coming weeks. The schedule has to be worked out because there is a clash. But luckily, the ODI is in Kolkata and players won’t take much time to reach Dhaka,” the official added.