Azhar: make a clear de­ci­sion

For­mer In­dia cap­tain on ten­sions with ri­vals Pak­istan

7 Days in Dubai - - SPORT - durgesh@7days.ae

“Ei­ther you open ev­ery­thing or don’t open any­thing.” That’s the view of for­mer In­dian cap­tain Mo­hammed Azharud­din when quizzed about the es­tranged crick­et­ing re­la­tions between his na­tion and Pak­istan.

In­dia’s last trip to Pak­istan was for the Asia Cup in 2008, while the lat­ter vis­ited In­dia for a bi­lat­eral series in 2012. Though there isn’t an of­fi­cial ban, no team has picked Pak­istan play­ers in the In­dian Premier League (IPL) auc­tion since 2009.

But the league did not boy­cott me­dia per­son­al­i­ties, match of­fi­cials and coach­ing staff from across the border. And this doesn’t sit right for Azhar.

Azhar told 7DAYS: “I think it has gone to a stage now where it’s between the two coun­tries’ [govern­ments].

“Ei­ther 100 per cent yes or 100 per cent no. There are com­men­ta­tors and um­pires from Pak­istan, but you don’t al­low their play­ers to play in the T20s [IPL], there is shift in opin­ion.”

The in­volve­ment of for­mer Pak­istan crick­eters in the IPL has been a hotly-con­tested topic in In­dia.

And, the most re­cent events have left a huge ques­tion mark on the fu­ture of cricket between the two teams on any stage, let alone a bi­lat­eral series.

Though a tour was planned for late 2015, it fell short, much to the dis­ap­point­ment of fans and more so of the Pak­istan Cricket Board (PCB), whose sug­ges­tion that the series be shifted to the UAE was also shot down by the Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia (BCCI). The drama con­tin­ued when the venue of the In­dia-Pak­istan match in the 2016 World T20 was shifted from Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh to Kolkata ow­ing to lack of se­cu­rity ar­range­ments. The PCB re­acted by threat­en­ing to pull out of the tour­na­ment, caus­ing a ma­jor em­bar­rass­ment for the BCCI.

More re­cently, BCCI pres­i­dent Anurag Thakur made his in­ten­tions clear and said that the two teams should prob­a­bly not fea­ture in the same group in next year’s ICC Cham­pion’s Tro­phy clash set to be held in Eng­land and Wales.

Thakur said: “I will be sug­gest­ing to the ICC in our next meet­ing in Oc­to­ber in South Africa that it will be bet­ter if we don’t have the two teams in the same group.

“We [BCCI mem­bers] felt that it will be bet­ter to in­form ICC nine months in ad­vance.”

The state­ment in­di­rectly pointed to­wards boy­cotting the June 4, 2017 clash between the two sides set to take place at Edg­bas­ton.

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