Time For India To Shed Big Brother Attitude & Play Pakistan in UAE

India is fast running out of excuses to not play Pakistan after committing to the series in 2014, writes Chandresh.

3 min read
Though India have not played Pakistan in a bilateral series since 2007, the two teams have since met at the ICC World Cup twice. India have beaten Pakistan both times. (Photo: AP)

The will they, won’t they – the circus around Indo-Pak cricket has started again.

In 2014, The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to play five bilateral series (both home and away) over the next eight years. The PCB always believed that the deal was on, but is being kept in suspense by the changes in the BCCI set-up.

India is now clearly dithering.

Pakistan looks like the more reasonable partner in the argument, because they are willing to play ball with the BCCI on their terms. PCB’s broadcaster, Ten Sports, was the perceived thorny issue earlier. But that was sorted out. Then India had misgivings about the ‘away’ venue of United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Why there is a constant shift of goalposts in the resumption of cricketing ties is anybody’s guess.

India last faced Pakistan at the 2015 ICC World Cup. (Photo: AP)
India last faced Pakistan at the 2015 ICC World Cup. (Photo: AP)

UAE is clearly Pakistan cricket’s new home and has been so since 2009. All those referring to UAE as a den for illegal activities around corruption in cricket, conveniently forget that the first half of IPL 2014 was staged in the Gulf region, including the much maligned Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Time is running out for Pakistan to put together a series against India in December because there is anyway only a 22-day window in December-January. With the delay in decision-making from the Indian side, the series is as good as off the table. Obviously the Indian side does not yet have the green signal from the Centre for the series. But why is there such a big price put only on cricket to prove its patriotism when other sportspersons/teams travel to and fro.

Indo-Pak cricket has gone through long periods of inactivity. First from 1961-1978, then from 1989-1999 and now from 2007-2015. In the interim there have been regular ODI and T20I exchanges at both bilateral and multilateral levels, and the only issue has been having a regular Test series.

Pakistan’s captain Waqar Younis (left) and his Indian counterpart Sourav
Ganguly shake hands before their 2003 World Cup match. (Photo: Reuters)
Pakistan’s captain Waqar Younis (left) and his Indian counterpart Sourav Ganguly shake hands before their 2003 World Cup match. (Photo: Reuters)

India’s spin quartet battled Pakistan at the fag end of their careers in 1978. Then very recently Wasim Akram lamented at not having played Sachin Tendulkar in his prime from 1989-1999. This war-like scenario created around Indo-Pak cricket died down in the 1980s when they played each other almost every four months, where else, but in Sharjah.

In the 1990s, when the bilateral exchanges died down, war-like scenarios built up before matches. That scenario has again started shaping up because of the lull in exchanges. India and Pakistan are missing out on playing against each other, when they are at their best, which then creates imbalance when action starts.

Indian cricket needs to shed its big brother attitude and be prepared to embrace other nations whole-heartedly. Let’s start by playing Pakistan in the UAE, then by inviting Bangladesh to play their first-ever Test in India.

After all, promotion of cricket is also one of the remits of the full members of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and is not just the responsibility of an All Stars XI led by Tendulkar.

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