What’s the story?
“Sarfaraz has his own views but I don't think he said they were scared directly. To me it is simple, everyone knows the reasons for India not playing against Pakistan. It is all political and nothing to do with cricket. I think the Indian team players would like to play against us but it is the Indian government which is not allowing it. It is a great loss to cricket that we are not playing against each other like we should,” Misbah told reporters at the unveiling of the Champions Trophy at the National Stadium in Karachi.
Echoing the same sentiments, Afridi felt, “If there is no bilateral cricket being played, it is because of the Indian government. I don't think the Indian players do not want to play against us. When we went there last year (2016 World T20), the Indian people were happy to see us play there.”
Earlier, Sarfraz had attributed the lack of recent bilateral fixtures between India and Pakistan to the former’s fear of playing their arch-rivals. The wicket-keeper batsman also urged the BCCI to respond positively to PCB’s invitation of a series in the UAE later this year.
The heart of the matter
Since the turn of the millennium, India have had the better of Pakistan across all formats with 34 victories to Pakistan’s 29. In recent times, the scales are heavily tilted in the former’s favour. Since 2011, India have won 10 matches and lost only on four occasions against their neighbours.
With the political climate in the region being quite volatile, the two Asian powerhouses have not met each other in a bilateral series since the brief limited-overs affair in 2012/13. Although a full-fledged tour is proposed in Pakistan’s adopted home of UAE towards the end of this year, it’s unlikely to go ahead if the Ministry of Home Affairs is to be believed.
Pakistan are currently in the West Indies for a full tour comprising of all three formats of the game. On the other hand, the Indian players are getting ready to participate in the IPL. The 2017 Champions Trophy will see both teams take each other on in Birmingham on June 4.
With statistics reiterating India’s dominance over Pakistan in recent times, Sarfraz’s views were based on emotion rather than cold hard facts. If he were to learn on how to conduct himself both on and off the field, the 29-year old needs to look pay heed to his more experienced countrymen like Misbah and Afridi.