Azhar: make a clear decision
Former India captain on tensions with rivals Pakistan
“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.