Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar said it’s high time India and Pakistan resume playing bilateral cricket, keeping aside the political differences between the 2 Asian neighbours.
Shoaib Akhtar pointed out that a Kabaddi team from India can visit Pakistan, their tennis teams can play Davis Cup at a neutral venue but questioned why the two cricketing teams can’t meet in bilateral series.
Shoaib Akhtar’s comments come after World Cup-winning India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh recently said India-Pakistan cricket will be good for the sport.
India and Pakistan have met sporadically in multi-nation tournaments but have not played a bilateral series since 2013. They last played a Test series in 2008.
Only recently, Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India sent an ‘unauthorized’ team to Pakistan for the circle style World Cup in Pakistan.
Stressing that India-Pakistan bilateral cricket is good news for fans, the rivalry and monetary aspects, Akhtar said the two teams should at least consider playing each other in a neutral venue if visiting the other country remains an issue.
“Pakistan is a very safe place to travel. India’s Kabaddi team came, they got a lot of love, Bangladesh came to play Test cricket. But if there are still doubts then I suggest neutral venues,” Akhtar said in a YouTube video.
“If you want to cut the ties then stop the trade, stop playing Kabaddi. Why only cricket? Whenever it’s cricket we make it political, it is very disappointing. We eat onions and tomatoes, we exchange pleasantries then why can’t we play cricket?”
“I understand India can’t come to Pakistan, Pakistan can’t go to India but we play Asia Cup, Champions Trophy on neutral venues, can’t we do the same for bilateral series?
“We are one of the best hospitable nations in the world and India has seen it first hand.
“Ask the likes of Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar we love them like anything. Cricket should not get affected by the differences between us. Hopefully, India and Pakistan can play a bilateral series soon and it’s important for both countries to have a tough competition between them.”
Meanwhile, India’s sports minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday asked the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) to launch an inquiry into the ‘unofficial’ kabaddi team’s visit to Pakistan.
“Our official kabaddi team didn’t go to Pakistan. We don’t know who has gone there. It is not right for any unofficial team to go anywhere and play with India’s name. We didn’t send any official team,” Rijiju said.