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Monday, July 16, 2012

Cricket: India To Host ODI Series With Pakistan In December!


The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) agreed to host a One-Day International Cricket Series with Pakistan in India this December. The decision was taken at meeting held in New Delhi today. The series will consist of three one-day internationals (ODI) and two T20 matches. The ODIs are likely to be held in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai while the shortest games in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

The landmark decision means the two greatest rivals in cricket lore will be having a bilateral cricket series after a gap of five years. The last bilateral series was hosted by India too in 2007 when India won both the one-day and the Test series. The decision comes after persistent requests by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in recent months. The PCB wanted bilateral cricket series to be played either in Pakistan or in neutral territories, but the BCCI was not in favor of playing Team India in Pakistan. The cricket link between the two countries snapped after the horrific Mumbai terror attack in 2008 and Pakistan’s consistent policy of denial and contradictions.

The landmark decision means the people of the two countries now need not wait for either the World Cup or the Asia Cup to relish the classic encounters between their favorite teams. This means a new beginning in opening up cricket ties between the two neighboring and yet strife-torn countries.

The landmark decision has also started the politics of the game of cricket. While the PCB welcomed the initiative wholeheartedly the Congress of the Indian ruling coalition and the opposition alliance partners, the BJP and the Shiv Sena, had opposed the BCCI decision. The Congress in Maharashtra requested for considering people’s sentiments while the Shiv Sena has continued with its traditional anti-Pakistan stand, though in IPL-5 when ex-Pakistan cricketer Azhar Mahmood was playing in the party’s headquarters, Mumbai, it preferred to remain silent. The main opposition party BJP too decided to oppose while it’s most prominent veteran and the leader of the opposition in the upper house of Indian Parliament was very much a part of the BCCI decision. Surprisingly, the legendary little master of Indian cricket, Sunil Gavaskar, had criticized BCCI for the initiative. He held that as a person belonging to Mumbai he could not support reviving Indo-Pak cricket ties in view of Pakistan’s obstinate non-cooperation in the Mumbai terror attack investigations.

Politics and critique apart, the cricket lovers of both countries would definitely rejoice at the prospect of the titanic clashes about to unfold. Of course, one cannot wish away national interest and the dangers to it, but cricket between the two countries is sure to strengthen the national spirit in both which in turn is expected to strengthen strained relations. Pakistan would do much better by coming out boldly on anti-terror initiative and ending its eternal mode of denial.

Cheers for cricket and better neighborly relations!

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