NEWLY ELECTED Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is “very, very keen” on the resumption of bilateral cricket between India and Pakistan, according to Ehsan Mani, the new chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
“It’s still early days. My intention is to make Asian cricket stronger again, as it used to be. I don’t want to go into any detail at this stage but obviously, cricket between Pakistan and India is important to world cricket. So, that is one thing we will have to sit down, consider and address. Fortunately, we have a Prime Minister who is very, very keen on that,” Mani told The Indian Express on Monday.
India and Pakistan haven’t played any bilateral cricket since 2012-13, when Pakistan toured India for a short limited-overs series. The Indian government has refused to give permission for a bilateral series until “Pakistan stops cross-border terror”. The upcoming Asia Cup in September had to be shifted out of India because of Pakistan’s participation in the tournament. The UAE will now host the Asia Cup.
India and Pakistan, however, have been playing each other in ICC events. Pakistan came to India for the ICC World T20 in 2016.
Imran, the World Cup-winning Pakistan captain, has been a vocal advocate of cricketing ties between the two countries. On his India visit in 2015, as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman, Imran had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At the time, the PTI’s official Twitter handle had quoted him as saying: “When I told Modi that India & Pak should play cricket, he gave a smile, I can’t decipher that further.”
Khan had also been quoted in the media as saying: “We don’t want to be enemies forever. You have to think about the future. There are mutual cricketing heroes in both our countries. Like Wasim Akram is adored and loved in India, Sachin Tendulkar is a hero in Pakistan.”
On Monday, while appointing Mani as PCB chief, Khan posted on Twitter: “I have appointed Ehsan Mani as Chairman PCB. He brings vast and valuable experience to the job. He represented PCB in the ICC; was Treasurer ICC for 3 yrs and then headed the ICC for another 3 yrs.” The announcement followed Najam Sethi’s resignation from the post.