Millennium Post

India, Pak game again

Amidst new disclosures by the 26/11 Mumbai attack handler Abu Jundal's links with Pakistani terrorists and state actors, the fabled on-field cricketing rivalry between the two sub-continental giants is set to resume after a gap of five years. The Board of Cricket for Control in India (BCCI) has agreed to host Pakistan for a series comprising three ODIs and two T20 matches in December 2012 and January 2013.

The short series will be played when England go back home for Christmas after playing four Tests and two T20s in November-December before they return for a five-match ODI series in January.

The two countries last played Tests in 2007-8 when Pakistan toured India, India winning the series 3-2. Though India were to play in the neighbouring country in 2009, the tour was called off in the wake of Mumbai terror attack in 2008.
At a time when terror issues are again raising its ugly head, India's stand surely emerge as a major diplomatic attempt to improve the sour relationship between the two countries. The tone was set by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting his then Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani during the World Cup semifinal in Mohali last year, one of the many attempts to improve South Asian cricket diplomacy. Monday's development is an interesting case which, on the one hand, forces the former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar to question the urgency of the move when there is no cooperation from the other side to ease tension, while many might feel that the BCCI's stand will clear the decks for top Pakistani cricketers to again be a part of auctions in the Indian Premier League.
When Singh invited the then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf to New Delhi to watch a match in 2005, pundits said that the peace process was now 'irreversible'. But peace propositions turned out to be horribly wrong when in November 2008 Islamist gunmen attacked Mumbai, killing 166 people. The ghastly action forced India to suspends the ongoing peace dialogue.

Talking to a news channel, Gavaskar said, 'Being a Mumbaikar, I feel what is the urgency when there is no co-operation from the other side. The tour also robs the few days the players get to themselves between the Tests and ODIs against England.' His mate and Pakistan legend Zahir Abbas, however, expressed joy, saying, 'The best remedy is to play. At least the country will be busy watching cricket. It will be good for cricket and Indo-Pak relationship.'

The news will surely be received cheerfully by Pakistan Cricket Board members, who have been, in recent times, trying hard to sell the country as a safe cricketing team and venue. Earlier too, the two countries have met after long periods of suspension of ties, and whenever the rivalry resumed, it was followed by scintillating matches between two naturally talented teams. From 1978, when the Bishen Singh Bedi led India to Pakistan with Kapil Dev making his debut to the time Saurav Ganguly and his army beat their bitter rivals in both Tests and ODIs back in 2004.
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