What’s the story?
Pakistan ODI and T20I captain Sarfraz Ahmed has come up with a rather bizarre and controversial claim. The wicket-keeper batsman has attributed the lack of recent bilateral ties between the two Asian powerhouses to India’s fear of facing Pakistan on the cricket field.
“It’s always Pakistan who have come forward to play with India and they should respond positively. Perhaps India are afraid of facing Pakistan which is why they don’t play against us. It's always fun to play in a match against India. We will try to win against India in the Champions Trophy but the main thing is for the team to fight for success against all teams,” Sarfraz told Samaa TV.
He added, “I have not played IPL so don't know much about it but if I look at how PSL has been organised, then I am pleased to say that it’s improving with every edition. Our PSL champions should play champions from other leagues like IPL and I am sure they will offer a good challenge to those teams.”
Contrary to Sarfraz’s tall claims, India have won six of their last seven matches against Pakistan across all formats. Under Anil Kumble’s captaincy back in 2007, the Indians clinched the previous Test series (1-0 at home) that they played against their bitter rivals. According to the current ICC rankings, India are rated 1, 4, and 2 in Tests, ODIs and T20Is respectively while their neighbours find themselves at 5, 8 and 6 in the corresponding rankings.
The heart of the matter
Due to political stand-offs and frequent incidents along the Line of Control (LoC), bilateral cricket ties between the two nations have been pushed to the back burner. Earlier today, there were reports of BCCI seeking permission from the Indian government for playing a series in Pakistan’s adopted home of UAE later this year.
However, subsequent developments from the Ministry of Home Affairs have raised serious question marks over the possibility of such a series taking place in the current political scenario.
While former Pakistan batsman Javed Miandad alleged that India have been least interested in playing their arch-rivals, Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq urged both parties to put aside their differences and organise a bilateral series.
The next clash between India and Pakistan is only a couple of months away. The two Asian teams are scheduled to meet each other in the 2017 Champions Trophy on June 4th in Edgbaston, Birmingham.
With India owning Pakistan in their recent matches, Sarfraz’s views come across as baseless. Although the 29-year-old's statements could have been a desperate move to grab eyeballs, the BCCI and the Indian government can squash such claims by organising a full-fledged tour in the UAE.
Needless to say, the upcoming Champions Trophy encounter between the two sides will be one to look out for.