Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar batted for the resumption of India-Pakistan cricketing ties. Akhtar minced no words in criticizing all stakeholders for the long gap between an India and Pakistan bilateral series.
The last time an India-Pakistan bilateral series took place was in 2012-13 when Pakistan travelled to India for a three-match ODI series. Even that happened after a gap of 5 years. The last time these two countries played a Test match was back in 2007. Both the countries, however, have been facing each other regularly in ICC tournaments and Asia Cups.
“We can play Davis Cup, we can play Kabaddi with each other then what’s wrong with cricket? I understand India can’t come to Pakistan, Pakistan can’t go to India but we play Asia Cup, Champions Trophy on neutral venues, can’t we do the same for bilateral series?” Akhtar asked in his youtube channel.
“We are one of the best hospitable nations in the world and India have seen it first hands. Ask the likes of Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar we love them like anything. Cricket should not get affected by the differences between us. Hopefully, India and Pakistan can play a bilateral series soon and it’s important for both countries to have a tough competition between them,” he added.
Akhtar also suggested neutral venues for an India vs Pakistan bilateral series.
“Pakistan is a very safe place to travel. India’s Kabaddi team came, they got a lot of love, Bangladesh came to play Test cricket. But if there are still doubts then I suggest neutral venues,” Akhtar said.
The Rawalpindi express also went on to say state that all ties should be cut off if India and Pakistan cannot play cricket.
“If you want to cut the ties then stop the trade, stop playing Kabaddi. Why only cricket? Whenever it’s cricket we make it political, it is very disappointing. We eat onions and tomatoes, we exchange pleasantries then why can’t we play cricket?” He added.
Commenting on the importance of the India-Pakistan bilateral series, Akhtar said it is better for cricket and also for business. “It’s very important for India and Pakistan to play because it earns revenue, it brings the fans, it inspires and it also keeps the healthy rivalry going. We get to see new players who can handle this pressure. I urge everyone to come forward and make India-Pakistan bilateral series possible,” he said.
Recently, former India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh had also thrown his weight behind India-Pakistan bilateral series.
“I remember playing against Pakistan in 2004, 2006 and 2008 in bilateral series. These days yeah, there has not been enough of that. But these things are not in our hands. We play cricket for the love of the sport. We cannot choose which country to play against ourselves. But what I can say is that the more India v Pakistan cricket there is, the better it is for the sport,” Yuvraj told Sports360.