ICC Champions Trophy: India, Pakistan to clash next on 1 March next year, but where?

PCB schedule India’s matches in Lahore, optimistic about neighbours’ visit

Rohit Sharma & Babar Azam (photo: ICC)
Rohit Sharma & Babar Azam (photo: ICC)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The next India-Pakistan clash in a marquee event, if the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have their way, could be in Lahore on 1 March next year at the 2025 ICC Champions Trophy. The prestigious ODI tournament, which is being resurrected after 2017 when Pakistan won it in the UK, is scheduled to be hosted entirely in Pakistan.

The PCB have submitted a draft schedule to the ICC to stage the mega event from 19 February to 9 March with a reserve day for the final. Set to be the first ICC event in Pakistan after the 1996 World Cup, a total of 15 matches are scheduled across Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi but with all India matches scheduled at a single venue in Lahore for security and logistical purposes.

The biggest catch, however, remains the approval from the BCCI which had been refusing to tour Pakistan citing security reasons since the terror attack in Mumbai in 2008.  The last occasion was the 2023 Asia Cup when India refused to travel to Pakistan – and the matches took place in a hybrid format where the hosts’ group matches were played in Pakistan while India’s matches were played in Sri Lanka.

While staging India’s matches in a neutral venue as per the hybrid model remains the most convenient option,  there is a quiet air of optimism about the Men in Blue crossing the border this time.  PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi, who was an invitee at the T20 World Cup final in Barbados, has confided to the local media on his return about a ‘fruitful meeting’ with all parties concerned and hoped that all eight teams will come to Pakistan for the event.

The eight top ranked ICC teams in the ODIs which have made the cut are hosts Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England and Afghanistan.

The worsening political relationship between the two neighbours – with its ebbs and flows -has snapped the bilateral cricketing ties for years. Pakistan has, however, toured India for three major ICC events in 2011, 2016 and the 50-overs World Cup last year while the BCCI has not allowed their team to visit Pakistan for successive Asia Cups citing government stance with the events being eventually relocated to neutral venues.

With more than eight months to go for the event, there are going to be many twist and turns in the plot but the PCB has gone ahead with the planning with an eye to facilitate the entry of Indian fans on tourist visas. Informed sources feel that with the Wagah border being the closest to Lahore, it would be easier for the travelling media and fans should they turn up for the event.    

Meanwhile, the PCB on Friday released a busy home-and-away international season for 2024-25 season which includes a ODI tri-series at home with New Zealand and South Africa in preparation for the ICC Champions Trophy 2025. The dates of the tri series have been scheduled between 8 and 14 February before the ICC showpiece kicks in.

Since the return of international cricket to Pakistan in 2015, all the teams involved in the Champions Trophy, except India have toured and played in Pakistan. The Pakistan Super League (PSL), which first began at their second home in the UAE, but has gradually relocated to the country.

Striking an upbeat note after releasing their 2024-25 calendar, the PCB chairman said: “The visits by five top cricket playing nations in the lead-up to the ICC Champions Trophy 2025, followed by seven countries participating in the event proper over the next eight months, also highlight Pakistan’s standing and stature in international cricket."

Pakistan’s 2024-25 calendar

Home: Bangladesh in Pakistan (Two Tests)

21-25 Aug – First Test, Rawalpindi

30 Aug-3 Sep – Second Test, Karachi

England in Pakistan (Three Tests)

7-11 Oct – First Test, Multan

15-19 Oct – Second Test, Karachi

24-28 Oct – Third Test, Rawalpindi

West Indies in Pakistan (Two Tests)

16-20 Jan – First Test, Karachi

24-28 Jan – Second Test, Multan

New Zealand and South Africa in Pakistan (ODI tri-series)

8 Feb – Pakistan v New Zealand, Multan

10 Feb – New Zealand v South Africa, Multan

12 Feb – Pakistan v South Africa, Multan

14 Feb – Final, Multan

AwayPakistan to Australia (three ODIs, three T20Is)

4 Nov – First ODI, Melbourne

8 Nov – Second ODI, Adelaide

10 Nov – Third ODI, Perth

14 Nov – First T20I, Brisbane

16 Nov – Second T20I, Sydney