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India vs Pakistan: The final schedule for the ten-team ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 is confirmed as per which India and Pakistan are slated to square off on October 15 at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium. In India, Pakistan will play their nine league stage matches across five venues (Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata), starting on October 6 and ending on November 12 with a match against defending champions England. There was a delay in the release of the 2023 ODI World Cup schedule as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) wasn’t willing to play a World Cup match against in Ahmedabad due to political reasons. However, their objection was rejected by the ICC and now in all likelihood, Pakistan pulling out of the World Cup still remains a possibility.

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In an exclusive conversation with The Indian Express, Pakistan’s sports minister Ehsaan Mazari said that the Men in Green won’t arrive in India for the ODI World Cup if they don’t come across the border for 2023 Asia Cup. PCB was forced to host the 2023 Asia Cup in a hybrid model, in collaboration with Sri Lanka, after India denied traveling to Pakistan to play the tournament. As per the hybrid model, Sri Lanka gets to host 9 games while host Pakistan gets to host mere 4 matches of the Asia Cup.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Mazari said, “My personal opinion, since the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) comes under my ministry, is that if India demands to play their Asia Cup games at a neutral venue, we would also demand the same for our World Cup games in India.”

His statement comes a day after Pak PM Shehbaz Sharif formed a high-profile committee to decide Pakistan’s ODI World Cup participation in India. Sharing the mandate of the committee Mazari said, “The committee will be headed by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and I am among the 11 ministers who are part of it. We will discuss the issue and give our recommendations to the PM, who is also the patron-in-chief of PCB. The PM will take the final decision.”

Mazari told Indian Express that India’s refusal to play cricket in Pakistan puzzles him.

“India brings sports into politics. I don’t understand why the Indian government doesn’t want to send their cricket team here. Some time back a huge baseball contingent from India was in Islamabad to play. There was also the bridge team that had travelled to Pakistan. There were around 60 plus people, I was the chief guest of the event. They won here and left. Pakistan’s football, hockey and chess teams also travel to India,” he said.

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