Bangalore: After five years of no cricket, India and Pakistan will play once again this December. On Monday, the BCCI agreed to host three ODIs and two T20s between the traditional rivals. The short bilateral series will begin towards the end of December and be over in January 2013.
Further, there has been no international cricket in Pakistan post the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, and that has left PCB severely cash strapped and probably that’s why they need this more than India.
BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla said “Even after the Kargil War, and the 1965 and 1971 wars, Pakistani cricket teams toured India,” as reported by First Post. He added that “Even the public wants Indian and Pakistani teams to play against each other.”
The difference between Kargil, the 1965 and 1971 wars and the 26/11 attacks was that for the first time civilians were attacked in such an evil manner and it scarred the minds of all those present or watching it forever.
India and Pakistan should continue to meet on the cricket field but one also hopes that their encounters happen without the shadow of terrorism and politics so that peace is maintained. While it is indeed, the political history of the countries that makes the rivalry emotional.The news received mixed reactions from the heavyweights associated with the gentleman's game including ex-cricketers and politicians.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar was quoted saying to India Today "Recently, we had an extradition from Saudi Arabia which has confirmed their (Pakistan's) role in 26/ 11. Yet you want to play cricket with them."
He also said, "As a Mumbaikar I feel what's the need of playing cricket with Pakistan? What's the urgency of playing cricket when there has been no co-operation from the other side? If you get away by doing a wrong thing once then you tend to do it again."
On the other hand, political parties appeared to be caught on the back foot. The Maharashtra Congress asked the BCCI to reconsider the decision to restart cricket ties with Pakistan, while the Congress in New Delhi said that it has always maintained that cricket and politics should be kept apart.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said "We maintain that politics and cricket should not be mixed." AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh said "The match (es) should be held. Cricket match (es) will help improve Indo-Pak relations," as reported by India Today.
BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale said in a press release "It was decided to resume cricketing ties with Pakistan by inviting the Pakistan team for a short series between December 26 and January 10. The modalities will be worked out shortly." BCCI vice president and IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata would host the ODI matches, whereas Bangalore and Ahmedabad would be the venues for the T20 games. Shukla told TOI "I have spoken to the home and external affairs ministries, and they are okay with the proposed series."
He further said it would be treated as a home series against Pakistan and there won't be any revenue-sharing, something the Pakistan Cricket Board was insisting on. The last Indo-Pak series was played on Indian soil in 2007 but cricketing ties between the neighbors were snapped after the 26/11 attack in Mumbai in 2008. However, the teams have met each other in the World Cup, Asia Cup and Champions Trophy.
The PCB had previously proposed a bilateral series at a neutral venue with sharing of revenue from TV rights. But the BCCI rejected the suggestion and instead agreed to a home series keeping in mind the fact that Pakistan has constantly supported India at ICC meetings. A BCCI source said to TOI "We played Pakistan in 2003 after ties were snapped following the Kargil war. We are willing to do so now again, but on our terms."
Sources said it was BCCI president N Srinivasan who had set off the discussion on the proposed Indo-Pak series. He told the working committee members how PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf had been pushing for it. The Indian board was waiting for the government's go-ahead, which then came last month. It will again seek the government's approval in writing before going ahead with the series. With clearance coming for this series, there is hope that Pakistani players will be included in the IPL auction next year.
But it is said in 2005 when hundreds of Pakistani fans came across the border and partook of the joy that only an India-Pakistan match can generate, among the fans were 14 people who never went back to Pakistan and were never found. They probably were scouting sites, recruiting people, creating cells and blending in. So can Indian officials guarantee the next batch of attackers doesn’t sneak in as we begin the new round of cricket diplomacy?