Advocating for his country`s team be allowed to compete in the ODI World Cup in India, former Pakistan cricket captain Misbah-ul-Haq feels that not sending the side for the mega-event would be “depriving people” of the opportunity to see the arch-rivals clash on the biggest stage.
“When there can be contacts between the two countries in other sports, why not in cricket. Why link cricket with political relations? It is unfair to deprive people of a chance to see their teams play against each other,” said Misbah, the 49-year-old former Pakistan captain and coach at a function here on Friday.
“It is great injustice to the fans who follow Pakistan and Indian cricket a lot,” added the batter, who has more than 11,000 international runs.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) recently conveyed to the ICC and the BCCI that the national team`s participation in the World Cup in October-November this year is subject to government clearance due to the tense relations between the two countries.
India has refused to play its Asia Cup matches in Pakistan owing to geopolitical tensions, and after months of speculation around the continental tournament, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) announced that the event will be staged in a hybrid model with four games in Pakistan and nine in Sri Lanka (neutral venue) from August 31 to September 17.
PCB acting chairman Zaka Ashraf is also pushing for Pakistan`s World Cup matches against India to be played at neutral venues.
Misbah felt it was time Pakistan should go to India and the Indian team should also come to Pakistan to play matches.
“Certainly Pakistan should be playing in the World Cup even in India,” he added. “The many times I have played in India, we have enjoyed the pressure and crowds there. Because it gives you motivation and conditions in India suit us. Our team has the capability to do well in Indian conditions.”
Misbah also advised the players to just focus on cricket and winning the World Cup.
“What is happening outside their sphere they should not think about it. The key to doing well in the World Cup in India is to get the playing XIs right at particular venues and against particular opposition.”
Afridi too felt Pakistan must go to India for the World Cup.
“The biggest challenge for me or for any professional cricketer is dealing with the pressures which come with playing in India and trying to do well there in front of Indian crowds,” said Afridi.
“Overall we have enjoyed playing in India because the satisfaction and recognition you get if you can do well and perform in Indian is a worthy reward for any player,” he added.
The flamboyant all-rounder also said that Pakistan had got good venues for their World Cup matches and planning properly would suit them.
“We have a very good side and some outstanding talent and I don`t see any reason why we can`t go to India and do well there even if we play at Ahmedabad,” he added.
Afridi also expressed concern over the frequent changes in the PCB.
“It is a bother for the players and fans alike. I say develop a system so that it doesn`t matter who comes and goes, the system should stay and decisions must be respected.”
He also felt that cricketers need to be given leading roles in the PCB since they know the sport and understand the psyche of players.
(With PTI inputs)