Calcutta, July 16: Apt, perhaps, that Jagmohan Dalmiya, the architect of Asian unity, moved the proposal to resume cricket ties with Pakistan.
Dalmiya, who has held all the top positions, did so during the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s working committee meeting in New Delhi.
The resumption of bilateral cricket wasn’t on the agenda and it came up in the midst of domestic matters.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, nobody had reservations when Dalmiya proposed that the BCCI “respond positively” to repeated requests from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Dalmiya’s point was that the BCCI should do its bit as a sports body and leave the rest to the Union government.
That a revival was in the works had been reported by this correspondent from Melbourne as far back as December 28 last.
In actual terms, today’s development means more to Pakistan’s cricket and PCB chairman Mohammed Zaka Ashraf is bound to feel much more secure.
Recently, even Bangladesh refused to tour Pakistan and that put Ashraf, handpicked by President Asif Ali Zardari, in a corner.
National teams have stayed away after the March 2009 attack on Sri Lanka’s bus just a few hundred metres from the Gaddafi.
There has been no bilateral series after Pakistan’s tour in November-December 2007. The countries have, of course, played each other in multi-nation tournaments.
The last clash was in the Asia Cup four months ago. That’s when vice-captain Virat Kohli blasted 183, ensuring an India win in Dhaka.
Barring former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, the cricketing fraternity has welcomed the decision.
“Being a Mumbaikar, I feel what is the urgency when there has been no co-operation from the other side (on the 26/11 terror strike). Why is it that only India has to move on?” Gavaskar asked, a line expected to be taken by the Shiv Sena.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, by the way, is a member of the BCCI’s core group.
Gavaskar went to the extent of saying it would be a “meaningless series”. Yet, he added that while he disagreed, he “respected” the BCCI’s decision.
The logistics remain, but there’s a slot between December 22, 2012, and January 11, 2013. Specifically, the end of England’s Test-and-T20 leg of their India tour and the start of the ODIs.
Initially, word was that Pakistan would play three ODIs (in Chennai, Calcutta and New Delhi), but Union minister Rajeev Shukla, a former vice-president of the BCCI, announced that two T20 Internationals (in Bangalore and Ahmedabad) were also planned.
To leave no breathing space is typical of the BCCI.
For obvious reasons, Mumbai won’t be a host, but Mohali may come into the picture.
The last Indo-Pak face-off on either country’s soil was the 2011 World Cup semi-final, in Mohali.
A source revealed that the BCCI went public even though there’s nothing in writing from the Union government. It did so as the “signals had been positive”.
In the past, the resumption of bilateral ties had invariably been initiated either by Islamabad or New Delhi.
Be it the late General Zia-ul Haq or Atal Bihari Vajpayee, quite a few have been on the cricket bandwagon.
This time, the BCCI can take more credit.
In a related issue, it’s a matter of time before the Indian Premier League decides to welcome back the Pakistani players. It hasn’t featured Pakistani citizens after the inaugural edition (2008).
Footnote: A bonanza awaits Calcuttans: A Test involving the No.1 team, England; then an ODI featuring the biggest crowd-pullers from overseas.
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