Mumbai: As chances of a bilateral series between India and Pakistan are getting brighter, cricketers from India and across the border heaved a sigh of relief. From former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi to Pakistan stalwart Mushtaq Mohammad, all seem to be gunning for the resumption of cricket ties between the two nations.
The last time a bilateral series took place was in 2007 when Pakistan toured India for a three-Test series. The hosts won 1-0.
Bedi was skipper in 1978-79 when India toured Pakistan after 1960-61, with Mushtaq Mohammad being the opposition captain. The former left-arm spinner, who is known for calling a spade a spade, sounded excited at the prospect of the resumption of ties. “I wholeheartedly welcome the decision. But the venue could be India or somewhere like Sharjah or Dubai because I don’t think Pakistan is in a position to hold cricket right now simply due its security concerns,” Bedi told SUNDAY MiD DAY. Asked whether this is the right time to play the arch-rivals, Bedi said: “Any time is [the] right time for an India-Pakistan series.”
Mushtaq, who is based in Birmingham, was also thrilled by the turn of events. “It was like a breath of fresh air when I heard about the resumption of the cricket ties between the neighbouring countries. As a former cricketer, I would like to see talented cricketers from both the nations fight it out on the field. I am not sure whether cricket is possible in Pakistan. Unless and until the touring country is absolutely satisfied with the security there [in Pakistan], they won’t tour Pakistan,” Mushtaq said from Birmingham. “It’s not only the players of both nations, the people are also involved emotionally with the India-Pakistan cricket.”
Mohsin Khan, who was part of the Pakistan side that played against India in 1982-83, was of opinion that cricketers across the border have been good friends and so playing against each other will be more of fun rather than rivalry. “The Indian and Pakistani cricketers have shared a great rapport over the years. It is same at the present as it was during my time or even before that. The players used to crack jokes, eat together and our language is almost the same,” Mohsin said.
The former Pakistan opener didn’t want to drag cricket into politics. “How many times are we going to make cricket an excuse for tensions on the border? In my opinion, the leadership of both nations should come together and solve the issues diplomatically. Cricket or any sport for that matter shouldn’t be made to suffer. So, I personally feel that political tensions can be taken care of by the leadership of two great nations, but cricket should continue as usual,” Mohsin said.
Former India seamer Karsan Ghavri, who played against Pakistan in 1978-79 (in Pakistan) and 1979-80 (in India), was enthused with the news of the possibility of a bilateral series between the two countries. “Why not? Cricket has nothing to do with politics. The diplomatic relations can be looked after by the diplomats, but as far as cricket is concerned, we have had some memorable moments not only on the field, but even off it. There have been great ambassadors of the game from both India and Pakistan. I have never seen Pakistanis as rivals off the field,” Ghavri said.
Wasim Akram, who as bowling coach helped Kolkata Knight Riders win their maiden IPL title this season, said there were signs of a thaw. “I acted as an ambassador for Pakistan as everyone knows me and during my stay I have seen that people want Indo-Pak cricket to start,” Wasim told AFP. “I am a great advocate of Indo-Pak cricket and I hope all the issues between the two countries are solved so that millions of fans are not deprived of such entertaining cricket.”