It’s been a while since both India and Pakistan squared against one other in a series irrespective of and outside the ambit of an ICC event. The fact that two of the finest and supremely talented sides haven’t really faced one another in a bi-lateral series for a long while not only produces a feeling of anguish for the fan (who craves for a fascinating cricketing contest) but also tells us how distant have the two neighboring countries grown off each other. So if there’s something gravely wrong about this fascinating contest then it’s this: the lack of any India-Pakistan bi-lateral series.
And don’t you think that if there were to be some India-Pakistan bi-lateral series, cricket would become even more powerful and captivating in its appeal? Forget the rivalry that has traditionally defined the cricketing mold of two divergent powers. One reckons the presence of sheer power on either side of the border presents a potentially intoxicating cricketing series.
And one such talent who, in his prime and declining years of active cricket played a great part in raising the stakes of the contest, especially given the India-Pakistan rivalry, has also rallied behind the said idea. Yes, former fast bowling machine from Pakistan, Shoaib Akhtar himself has shouldered support to the cause of resumption of cricketing ties between the two nations.
The famous pacer, known as the “Rawalpindi Express” was of the opinion that, “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.”
In the past, whenever there have been some concerns regarding the relative safety of players contesting in a series in Pakistan, the game’s administrators have been prompt and alert about the same and have shifted the venue to a more neutral and safer destination. A case in point, it must be shared, have been the cricketing facilities in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where Pakistan have famously played their maiden Pink-Ball Test versus the West Indies in the past apart from also competing with sides such as Australia.
But all of that said, one’s personal safety does, however, raise concerns even as things have improved for the better in the recent past.
One recently saw the example of famous Bangladeshi player- Mushfiqur Rahim- opting to stay away from the Pakistan tour and letting the Bangladesh squad travel to the great land of fast bowlers and prodigal batsmen, albeit in his own absence.
Shoaib Akhtar, though, elaborated upon his views and tried to address the need about the resumption of India-Pakistan bi-lateral series. He would share the following, “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?”
“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?
That being said, what do you think: will cricket finally normalize the ties and ease the consternation felt by the two cricketing powers?