Shahid Afridi calls for revival of India-Pakistan cricket rivalry
What's the story?
Former all-rounder Shahid Afridi has called for the revival of bilateral cricket ties between India and Pakistan. With franchises based from India and Pakistan set to compete against each other in the upcoming T10 Cricket League, the erstwhile captain hoped that the innovative tournament would play a role in the resumption of the historic rivalry between the two cricket crazy nations.
"It is already a very good sign that some of the Indian teams are coming, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka as well. Pakistan and India are not playing (international cricket) because of some political issues but I think sport always brings the countries together and I think it is a very good and positive sign that some Pakistani teams and Indian teams will play against each other," Afridi was quoted as saying by Khaleej Times.
On the importance of separating sport from politics, the 37-year-old asserted, "The only thing that we can do is try (to revive bilateral ties). With the cricketers, the media should play a positive role in ensuring cricket and politics should be kept away. I've always said that sport is the only thing that can make the relationship better between the two countries. It is the same India and it is the same Pakistan. Pakistani players want to see Indian players play and Indian players want to see Pakistani players play. So, why politics comes into this, I don't understand."
In case you didn't know...
In what would be the first-of-its-kind tournament, a T10 cricket league has been launched in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Comprising just 10 overs per team in each game, the franchise-based league will pit teams representing the myriad ethnicity in South Asia. Apart from Afridi himself, the likes of Chris Gayle, Virender Sehwag and Kumar Sangakkara have been signed up as brand ambassadors of the innovative tournament.
The heart of the matter
With people belonging to both countries obsessed with cricket, India and Pakistan share a fierce and historic rivalry in the sport. The two Asian giants have played against each other in countless memorable matches providing inimitable exhilaration and unmatched euphoria to the spectators. The passion and intensity associated with the rivalry have been the cornerstones of cricket in the subcontinent.
However, in recent times, India and Pakistan have not played regularly against each other due to the prevailing political tension brewing in the region. Apart from multi-national tournaments and ICC events, the two teams have not met each other on the field for a significant period of time. The last bilateral series between the powerhouses came in 2012 when Pakistan toured India for a brief limited-overs assignment.
Parallels from history
Afridi and most of the current Indian players expressed their admiration as well as mutual respect for one another when Virat Kohli's team presented an Indian jersey containing their signatures to the retiring Pakistani icon. Kohli himself donated a bat to the Shahid Afridi Foundation. In turn, the maverick leg-spinner thanked the Indian team and Kohli for their affectionate gesture.
Considering the fact that only cricket can unite the people from both countries, Afridi's assessment is spot on regarding the need to prevent fickle political issues from polluting the great sport. One can only hope that the Indian government as well as BCCI relent from their unfathomable stand and allow for the resumption of bilateral cricket ties between the two countries.