Former Pakistan cricket captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, has voiced his support for Pakistan’s team to compete in the ODI World Cup in India. He asserts that denying the side the opportunity to participate in the mega-event would be an injustice, robbing fans of witnessing the intense clash between arch-rivals on the grandest stage. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) recently communicated to the ICC and the BCCI that the national team’s participation is contingent upon government clearance due to strained relations between the two countries.
Advocating for Cricket Beyond Political Relations
Misbah questions the association of cricket with political relations, emphasizing that other sports allow for contacts between the two nations. He believes it is unfair to deprive people of the chance to witness their favorite teams competing against each other. As a former captain and coach with an extensive international career, Misbah highlights the tremendous support from fans who closely follow both Pakistani and Indian cricket.
Push for Neutral Venues and Resolving Geopolitical Tensions
PCB acting chairman Zaka Ashraf is actively pushing for Pakistan’s World Cup matches against India to be played at neutral venues. Geopolitical tensions between the two countries have resulted in India refusing to play its Asia Cup matches in Pakistan. The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) recently announced a hybrid model for the tournament, with four games scheduled in Pakistan and nine in Sri Lanka as a neutral venue. Misbah believes it is time for Pakistan to play in India and for the Indian team to visit Pakistan, showcasing the talent and capability of both sides.
Focus on Cricket and Winning the World Cup
Misbah advises players to concentrate solely on cricket and the goal of winning the World Cup. He encourages them to avoid distractions from outside factors and stresses the importance of selecting the right playing XIs for specific venues and opponents to succeed in Indian conditions. Another former Pakistan captain, Shahid Afridi, concurs that playing in India poses significant challenges but acknowledges the rewards of performing well in front of Indian crowds. Afridi expresses confidence in Pakistan’s strong team and outstanding talent, believing they can perform exceptionally well in India, even at venues like Ahmedabad.
Concerns Over Frequent Changes in PCB and Player Involvement
Afridi expresses concern over the frequent changes in the PCB, noting that it affects both players and fans. He urges the establishment of a stable system that transcends individual personnel, ensuring continuity and respect for decisions. Afridi believes that cricketers should be given leading roles in the PCB due to their deep understanding of the sport and the players’ psyche.
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