As the ICC executive board hurries through legitimizing Indian hegemony through the approval of its “Position Paper”, Pakistan finds itself squarely outmaneuvered. There are little chances that Pakistan or South Africa will be able to thwart the approval of the new draft, apparently claiming a restructuring of the ICC. The stated intent is a rationalized restructuring and a ‘judicious’ revenue distribution, but the implied intent, ironically more obvious, is to browbeat and bulldoze every opponent, perceived or otherwise.

The initial 21 page document, reviewed and resubmitted in Tuesday’s meeting, envisions complete control of three nations (India, Australia, England) in three major areas: the Future Tour Program, the revenue distribution, governance and administrative control of the ICC. Given its resourcefulness in offering baits and spoils to major stakeholders, it is evident India will have its way. A delay would be Pakistan’s best success, though it seems very unlikely. For England and Australia, financials gains are too attractive to be compared with fair play and integrity. Respected figures like Mike Atherton and Arjuna Ranatunga have voiced in the open but who cares when IPL-tainted faces represent the new face of Indian cricket?

Pakistan would be hurt most by the axe on the Future Tour Programs. Post Sri Lanka team attack, the Future Tour Program provided Pakistan with the only lifeline in international cricket. Forced offshore, they were able to stay relevant; thriving quietly, beating the best, making their way into record books in the UAE. In the larger perspective, the FTP also ensured the game flourished globally with flavor and diversity. But with lucre the sole deciding factor, cricket outside the trio would be a forsaken possibility.

On choice, who in the trio would play bilateral series with Pakistan? Possibility of series with other nations is even gloomier. Once the BCCI settles its scores with Haroon Lorgat and co., South Africa is likely to be granted entry into the elite trio with amended terms. The rest lack the spine to dare any disobedience. Though Sri Lanka already learnt their lesson courtesy Punjab Police, their application of $8 loan from the ICC is up for the bargain. A cash-strapped West Indies board has stated it is willing to accept the new arrangement (a series with India is a big bait). Zimbabwe, struggling to pay salaries to players, is eying ICC’s financial assistance (series with India would be icing on the cake). And Bangladesh, when have they dared to defy India?

Imagine a scenario where Pakistan is begging Indian approval even for bilateral series with Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The ancillary losses are overwhelming: losing competitiveness (failure in multi-nation events like World Cup), absence from rankings, political implications of losing the only symbol of national bond, absence of heroes from other sports etc.

From maneuvering in rules to a media trial of Pakistani cricket, the chess board has seen Pakistan resurrecting itself crisis after crisis. But for now it seems the trapping is of the final kill. This is a move preceding a checkmate: nothing less than winning all the major ICC titles will redefine the market dynamics and improve its bargaining position, and the only way to avoid the inevitable. History suggests Pakistan rises when forced to the wall, but this time, the challenge is almost insurmountable.  In the final equation, the “Position Paper” lays down the final script of Pakistan’s ouster from international cricket. Our response in cricket will reflect how we dart our way through political challenges.