The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has turned down India’s offer to travel across the border and play a series against the neighbours in December. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Shashank Manohar had spoken to PCB chairman Shahryar Khan and invited Pakistan to play in India for a short series.
However, Shahryar on Monday ruled out Pakistan going to India, and said the PCB instead wanted a “home series” which would happen in UAE. When contacted, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, told The Indian Express that the Indian board can’t force Pakistan to play in India.
“It’s their (Pakistan) wish. Our president Shashank Manohar had spoken to PCB a few days back and we had given them the option to play in India. If now they are not keen then we can’t force them to play here. We can’t force anybody,” Thakur said, further adding, “As I have said earlier also, as per FTP, Pakistan was supposed to host us but we all know that no international teams play in Pakistan. So that is why this option was given to Pakistan.”
Sources in the board said the BCCI had done its best in the present circumstances to fulfill their commitment to play against Pakistan. And the Indian board is expected to take the same line to counter Pakistan’s threat of withdrawing from the T20 World Cup in India on the pretext that India was refusing to play a series against them.
Meanwhile, Shahryar told media in Pakistan that the PCB’s Board of Governors will be meeting on Tuesday and there could be discussions on the India series. “I will brief the Board of Governors about the discussions I have had with the Indian board president Shashank Manohar and we will then take the matter to the patron-in-chief, the Prime Minister, after clear guidelines from the GB,” Shahryar said.
He made it clear that since the issue of cricket with India was of great significance, it was absolutely necessary to seek directives from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Earlier in the day, Shahryar told the website ESPNcricinfo that there was no question of Pakistan playing in India.
“There is no question of playing in India. I am still awaiting the reason of not playing in UAE. We went there in 2007 and 2012. This time, not again. It is our series and we will play at our home venue which is the UAE. What is the problem playing in UAE as they had also played their IPL there as well so why not the Pakistan series?” he added.
The UAE problem
BCCI’s reservation to play in UAE arises from their wariness over past venues in Middle East, where betting and match-fixing was considered to be rampant. It is reliably learnt that Manohar doesn’t want India to play any series in the UAE. Last year when the IPL was moved to UAE due to Lok Sabha election, Manohar — who was not in the BCCI then — in a statement had said, “Many years back a conscious decision was taken by the BCCI to abstain from matches in the Middle East in view of certain information regarding rampant betting and match fixing. As far as I know, that decision has not been revoked. Due to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the decision to shift IPL matches to the Middle East will further tarnish the already murky waters surrounding the tournament.”
Top stars asked to play Mushtaq Ali T20 meet
Come December, the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy will get a much-needed boost as all Indian team stars will be representing their various states in the board’s annual domestic tournament after the PCB said it was not keen to send their team to India.
The BCCI has no series planned as most international teams have already planned their schedules for December.
Sources in the board informed The Indian Express that instead of inviting other teams, the BCCI will instruct their Indian team players, including MS Dhoni, to play in the Mushtaq Ali tournament. “If Pakistan is not coming then India will not pursue any other series with any international team. Instead we will ask all our players to play Mushtaq Ali,” a top BCCI official said.