Tuesday, March 21, 2023

BCCI should send Indian team to Pakistan for Asia Cup 2023: Shahid Afridi

Former skipper also brushes aside notion that Pakistan is not a safe country

Indias Rishabh Pant hits a four during a match between India and Pakistan in the ICC Mens T20 World Cup 2021. — Reuters
 India's Rishabh Pant hits a four during a match between India and Pakistan in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021. — Reuters 

Former national side captain Shahid Afridi has urged the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to send their team to Pakistan to participate in this year’s edition of the Asia Cup.

Pakistan is set to host the 2023 Asia Cup but the venue may be shifted to a "neutral venue" due to BCCIs’ reservations about touring Pakistan.

"It would have been really nice if India had come. It would have been a step towards cricket and Pakistan for India. This is not the generation of wars and fights. We want relationships to get better," Afridi told the media on the sidelines of the Legends League Cricket (LLC) in Doha.

"What can we do if we want to befriend someone and he does not talk to us? There is no doubt that the BCCI is a very strong board, but when you are strong, you have more responsibility. You don't try to make more enemies, you need to make friends. When you make more friends, you become stronger. I still have friends in the Indian team when we meet, we discuss, the other day I met Raina and I asked for a bat, he gave me the bat," he added.

It must be noted that in October last year, Pakistani cricket authorities hinted they may pull out of next year's World Cup in India, a day after Indian officials said they would not send a team to the 2023 Asia Cup in Pakistan.

President of the Asian Cricket Council and BCCI secretary Jay Shah had said that India "can't" send a team to Pakistan, adding the tournament would be moved to a neutral venue.

His announcement caught Pakistan by surprise, with officials warning it could "split" the international cricket community.

The PCB said Shah's comments "can impact Pakistan's visit to India for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 and future ICC Events in India in the 2024-2031 cycle".

The star cricketer also brushed aside the notion that Pakistan is not a safe country for sports since many international teams have toured the country in the past.

"As far as the security concern in Pakistan is concerned, we had many international teams travelling here recently. We used to face security threats from India as well, but if permission is received from the government of both countries then the tour will happen. If the tour doesn't happen, we will give those people a chance. All they want is that there should be no cricket between them," he further said.

"The real thing is that we never discuss with each other. Communication is most important. Politicians do the same, they discuss. Nothing will be resolved until you sit among yourselves. It would have been better if India had come to Pakistan. We and our governments want better relations with each other," he added.