PCB finalises venues for Champions Trophy

Pakistan players celebrate after the dismissal of New Zealand's Tom Blundell during the fifth T20I at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Saturday. File photo: AFP/Aamir Qureshi

Lahore: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has earmarked Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi as venues for next year's Champions Trophy, continuing to insist that the tournament will stay in the country despite speculation of a 'hybrid model' being under consideration to ensure India's participation.

The Champions Trophy, which was last held in England in 2017, is expected to be held tentatively in February-March next year.

India have not yet confirmed participation and there is speculation that the International Cricket Council (ICC) could use the hybrid model' and hold the country's matches at a neutral venue if the team does not get government clearance to travel. The ICC has already made it clear that it will not ask any member nation to defy government policy.

"We've sent the schedule for the matches in Pakistan for the ICC Champions Trophy," PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi said at a press conference in Lahore.

"The ICC's security team came and we had a very good meeting. They looked at arrangements here and we'll also share stadium upgrade plans with them.

"We are trying to ensure we host a very good tournament in Pakistan," Naqvi informed.

The PCB has been steadfast in insisting that the tournament will not be altered in any way to accommodate India.

The 'hybrid model' of hosting was used in the Asia Cup last year. The Asian Cricket Council, headed by BCCI secretary Jay Shah, held India's matches in Sri Lanka even though Pakistan was the official host of the tournament.

Naqvi also conceded that condition of all three proposed venues is currently sub-standard in terms of hosting international games of cricket.

"If you look at Gaddafi (Satdium, Lahore), it is good but the viewing experience is not great for cricket. Football maybe, not cricket," Naqvi said.

"We need to improve facilities in the stadiums, where there are some old problems. Karachi is in bad shape. So on May 7, we will finalise bids from international companies who will come and help us design.

"We are already late but we need to do these upgrades in four-five months. It will be a very tough test but we can do it.," Naqvi added.

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