~~Future cricket ties with India bleak~~

Published: Sunday, April 15, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Sharjah: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Tauqir Zia on Sunday held out little hope of an early resumption of matches against archrivals India. "We want to play, but what about India?" Zia, who is here to watch the ongoing Sharjah tri-series between Pakistan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, asked. The Indian government's refusal to allow the national team to play against Pakistan in the last two years had put a question mark over the second Asian Test championships in August, Zia told AFP. "Officials from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were supposed to meet here this week to finalise the details of the championships," he said. "But there's no point in meeting. What is the use of finalising anything when we can't execute it." The four Test playing nations from the region were scheduled to play each other at neutral venues in August with the top two from the league contesting the final. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), perhaps realising the futility of such an exercise, has already made other international commitments in the period. The Indians tour Zimbabwe in May-June, followed by a two-month tour of Sri Lanka in July and August. Moves are also afoot to hold two indoor Limited-Overs matches between India and Australia at the Colonial Stadium in Melbourne and one in Brisbane in September. Zia said he was not sure if Pakistan would send a team for the International Cricket Council (ICC)'s Knock Out tournament scheduled to be played in India next year. "My initial reaction is not to go to India, but if our government so desires, we will have to go," said Zia, a serving Army General in Pakistan's military regime. The Limited-Overs tournament, featuring the 10 Test-playing nations, is held every two years to raise funds for the ICC's development programme. Zia urged the ICC to be more assertive like football's governing body FIFA to resolve disputes between member nations. "Why can't the ICC take a leaf out of FIFA's book and use necessary sanctions and isolations to make countries play each other? The ICC itself is not clear what it wants to do. On one hand, it wants to globalise the game, on the other it is trying to scuttle off-shore venues." Zia said India's decision not to play in "non-regular" venues like Sharjah and Toronto for the next three years was linked to its policy of not playing against Pakistan. "Initial reports were clear India did not want to play against Pakistan, but after ICC president Malcolm Gray visited India, the stance was changed to not playing at non-regular venues."

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