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Terribly Sad that Cricketers are Not Getting to Experience the Indo-Pak Rivalry – Shoaib Akhtar

Shoaib Akhtar India Pakistan
Shoaib Akhtar says India Pakistan should more often play the bilateral series.

Former Pakistan pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar believes cricketers in India and Pakistan are being denied a chance to experience the celebrated sporting rivalry between the two countries due to politics.

Bilateral ties hit a roadblock:

The arch-rivals had not played a full bilateral Test series since 2007 when Pakistan last visited India for three Tests and five One-Day Internationals. The bilateral ties took a big blow in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

Both the countries played a short series of three ODIs and two T20s in India in December 2012, but otherwise, both had faced each other only in the ICC organised events or the Asia Cup.

Terribly Sad that Cricketers are Not Getting to Experience the Indo-Pak Rivalry - Shoaib Akhtar

The PCB has also decided to sue its Indian counterpart on the ground that the latter did not honour the MoU signed in 2014. The boards had signed the MoU for six bilateral series to be played between 2015 and 2023 with Pakistan hosting four of them.

Recently, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), opposed the Asian Cricket Council’s decision to give Pakistan the hosting rights for the next Asian Emerging Nations Cup cricket in April next year. The decision was taken at a meeting in Lahore which was not attended by the Indian board.

Terribly Sad that Cricketers are Not Getting to Experience the Indo-Pak Rivalry - Shoaib Akhtar
India and Pakistan last played a bilateral series in 2012 (Credits: AFP)

And any hopes of seeing both the cricketing powerhouses resume bilateral ties in bear future looks bleak, as the BCCI has not kept Pakistan in its Future Tour Programmed for 2019-2023 cycles, snubbing the neighbouring country amongst its six proposed opponents for the World Test Championship beginning in 2019.

“It is terribly sad that cricketers from either side of the border are not often getting to experience the Indo-Pak rivalry. Along with the Ashes, it is the biggest series in the game,” said Akhtar. “The cricketers are not getting a chance to become overnight heroes for their respective countries. Pakistan cricketers are adored in India, I myself have got so much love from India,” added the former bowler who had shot to stardom after castling Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar on successive deliveries during the Eden Gardens Test in 1999.

Terribly Sad that Cricketers are Not Getting to Experience the Indo-Pak Rivalry - Shoaib Akhtar
A delighted Akhtar after uprooting Sachin Tendulkar’s stadium in the 1999 Kolkata Test (Credits: ESPN)

“I really wanted the current Pakistani crop to experience the same kind of love we received in India back in the day and showcase their talent,” he further said.

The tearaway pacer also said the individuals should refrain from making statements if the Indo-Pak ties do not resume.

“Indo-Pak cricket should happen, but if it is not happening, one should move on and avoid making statements,” he said.

Earlier this month, former Pakistan batsman Javed Miandad had said that Pakistan cricket would not die if they do not play against Pakistan.

Sad to see interference of politics in sports:

Akhtar expressed his disappointment over the fact the fate of the bilateral ties between the two countries depends on political talks.

“I feel bilateral series won’t happen until bilateral talks resume between the two countries. And in the current scenario, one doesn’t know if cricket diplomacy will work or not,” he explained before adding:  “It is a bit strange and sad that it will be decided at the diplomatic level when it is often said the sports should be left aside from politics.”

He also said neither of the two boards should be blamed for the current situation.

“Having said that, it is not anyone’s fault (the BCCI or PCB). Both boards want the series to take place. It is in their interest if the series happens,” Akhtar said.

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