Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja recently revealed that Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly had invited him to the Indian Premier League (IPL) final on two separate occasions.
Speaking at a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday, June 24, Ramiz Raja explained that he had opted not to attend the matches owing to possible backlash from Pakistani fans.
Raja added that attending the IPL final could have improved relations between the two cricket bodies. He suggested that the political tensions prevented him from taking that step.
The PCB chief mentioned that he had spoken to Ganguly about making a difference, as they are among the few former cricketers who are in charge of their respective cricket boards.
On this, Ramiz Raja said:
"See, I've had conversations with Sourav Ganguly on the sidelines. I keep telling him, there are 2-3 cricketers who are currently the board presidents or chairman. If we can't bring a difference, what's the point?
"He also has his own concerns, unfortunately. On two different occasions, he invited me to IPL; once in Dubai and once this year," he added. "I was confused about whether or not to attend. I thought if I went there, fans will not spare me. There might be a cricketing sense to it (attending the IPL), yes, but right now, there are some cracks that need to be filled because it's a political game."
It is worth mentioning that India and Pakistan have not competed against each other in a bilateral series since 2013. Furthermore, Pakistani players are also barred from participating in the IPL.
The arch-rivals are scheduled to face each other at the T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia. The much-awaited clash between the two cricketing nations will take place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on October 23.
"People have started recognising that Pakistan's team and fans deserve such world-class events" - Ramiz Raja on Pakistan hosting 2025 ICC Champions Trophy
Meanwhile, Pakistan have secured the hosting rights for the ninth edition of the ICC Champions Trophy. The multi-nation tournament is set to be played in 2025.
Raja remarked that the country's fans deserve to witness such marquee events on their home soil:
"If it were a cricket game, this would have been solved in two minutes. See, we secured the hosting rights for 2025 Champions Trophy, which means we have tried to break that influence and people have started recognising that Pakistan's team and fans deserve such world-class events."
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if the Indian side will participate in the 2025 Champions Trophy in Pakistan. There is also no official confirmation from the BCCI as of now regarding the issue.