| WAQAR: ‘We must play at home’
Sharjah: Pakistan marked 50 years of Test cricket on Wednesday with a bitter attack on arch-rivals India for severing cricketing ties with them.
It was against India that Pakistan played their first Test match on October 16, 1952 at Delhi, but the two neighbours have not faced each other since May, 2000 due to the Indian government’s refusal to play cricket with Pakistan to protest their support to militancy in Kashmir.
“India is afraid of losing to us on the cricket field,” the Pakistan team manager Khwaja Mohammed Nasir on Wednesday.
“There can be no other reason. India lost to Pakistan in Sharjah, Australia and Bangladesh and suddenly decided to stop playing us.
“The Indian nation is emotional about losing to Pakistan at cricket. They are willing to face us in other sports like hockey, but do not want to play cricket.
“India’s constant refusal is playing havoc with the game in Asia. It’s only a game and should not be a matter of life and death as India makes it out to be,” Nasir, a retired brigadier of the Pakistan Army, said.
India is scheduled to play a Test series in Pakistan next April, but the tour is likely to fall through given the border tensions between the two neighbours.
Pakistan captain Waqar Younis said it was unfortunate his country’s golden jubilee series had to be played at neutral venues in Sri Lanka and Sharjah after Australia declined to tour Pakistan for security concerns.
“It would have been a grand affair had the series been played at home as scheduled,” Waqar said.
“It’s not a healthy sign. We must play at home. I agree here were some problems or teams touring Pakistan but it will be great if we can play Test matches at home again.”
Meanwhile, the resignation of PCB chief Lt Gen. Tauqir Zia has not been accepted by Pakistan president Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Zia had put in his papers earlier this week after Pakistan slumped to record lows of 59 and 53 to lose the second Test to Australia here inside two days.
Zia’s reinstatement on Tuesday has come as a tremendous relief to the touring party.
“It’s a great relief that Lt Gen Zia is back,” Nasir said. “He is a man of great honour and accepted responsibility for the defeat, deflecting criticism from the young team onto himself.”