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Asian championship will go on even without India: Zia

KARACHI, Aug 11 (AFP) - Asian Cricket Council chief Tauqir Zia Saturday said the four-nation Asian Test Championship will go ahead next month even without the participation of key member India.

Indian announced in May its team would play against Pakistan but, according to Indian newspapers, this could change after the deadlocked Agra summit last month between leaders of the rival nations.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is awaiting New Delhi's final clearance to play in the championship, in what would be first Test in Pakistan for 12 years.

Zia said that, as far as he knew, ``India is coming to Pakistan to play their Test as planned.''

He added though, ``I say this as president of Asian Cricket Council, that Asian Test championship will go on even if India does not come to Pakistan to play the Test next month.''

``I know it would be meaningless to play the Asian Test championship without India, but the championship must go on because, where does the Asian Cricket Council stand if member countries do not play each other?'' said Zia, who also heads Pakistan Cricket Board.

BCCI president A.C. Muthiah said Friday there would be no championship if India does not play.

Zia responded: ``It's Muthiah's opinion - even if Pakistan doesn't play it would be meaningless, without Sri Lanka its meaningless, but it must go on.''

The Indian government has refused to allow its team to play bilateral cricket with Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of backing cross-border terrorism in the disputed state of Kashmir, divided between the two countries but claimed by both.

However, India is free to play multi-national cricket with Pakistan.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are the other two teams in the Asian championship.

AFP - 11 August 2001