Karachi:The Asia Cup isn't a test for just who the best team in Asia is it's also a test of Pakistan's ability to host the Champions Trophy in September. So, as the best in Asia battle it out in Karachi and Lahore, the PCB is fighting it's own battle of convincing the ICC and the world that it is a safe place to stage the tournament considered second in prestige only to the world cup.
Almost every corner is covered at Karachi's National Stadium as the PCB tries to ensure an incident free Asia Cup, a tournament that's being seen as a dress rehearsal for the Champions Trophy. In the meantime, it's also working overtime to seek the ICC's stamp of approval of its security set-up.
"An ICC security team had come to Pakistan and they gave their report which said that it is feasible to have the Champions Trophy in Pakistan. They made certain suggestions, we've also implemented those suggestions, and at the moment, there is no difference in the way we are thinking and the way the ICC is thinking about security", Shafqat Naghmi, Chief Operating Officer, PCB said.
NDTV has learned that the acting CEO of the ICC, Dave Richardson is not convinced about Pakistan's ability to provide security during the Champions Trophy and has indicated that it could switch venues for the Champions Trophy to South Africa at even the last minute. Which means that the PCB cannot rest on its laurels even it hosts a successful Asia Cup.
The other threat the PCB faces is that of Australia withdrawing from the tournament. Other teams might follow suit. To prevent that situation, the PCB has even allowed a security scan by Australia, England and New Zealand.
"The three countries are sending one of their representatives and we said fine. As long as the ICC has no problem, since the Champions Trophy is an ICC event, then we don't have any problem either. He can watch all the security arrangements, and if that puts their mind at peace, we'll be very happy," Naghmi added.
Pakistan might be playing the role of hospitable hosts during the Asia Cup, but the final decision on whether or not it can host the September event might just be beyond it's control. It could also come down to a battle of strength between the Asian Bloc and the Aussie led faction.