Pakistan hopes India doesn~~t back off

Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi: Millions of cricket fans would be disappointed if India went back on its decision to play a Test match in Pakistan after a break of 12 years, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on Wednesday. "We hope India will play in Pakistan in September," PCB director operation Brigadier Munawar Rana said after comments by Indian Sports Minister Uma Bharthi seemingly put the tour in peril. v Bharthi had said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had jumped the gun in announcing India's participation in Asian Championships, which would involve games against Pakistan. "The BCCI should not take the liberty of making such announcements," she said. However Rana said the BCCI should fulfill the promise it made during the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) meeting in Lahore on Friday. "Resumption of the cricket ties was the most encouraging news in the ACC conference and it would be disappointing for millions of cricket lovers in both the countries if it change its plans," Rana said. The BCCI agreed to play across the border in the Asian Test Championships following an official directive that permitted cricket matches against Pakistan in multi- nation events. The India-Pakistan match in the championships, which also features Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, was scheduled to be played in Pakistan from September. But Bharthi's statement clouded hopes of ending the stalemate in the wake of India's invitation to Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf for peace talks on resolving bilateral disputes including the thorny Kashmir issue. "To play in Pakistan, the BCCI has to first give a written proposal to the Sports Ministry which in turn would forward it to the Foreign Ministry. The final decision rests with the foreign office," Bharthi said. "I think we are back to square one," a BCCI official said. Describing the situation "very confusing" he said, "I am not sure when we will play against Pakistan again." The BCCI has signed up to a new Asian Cricket Council (ACC) ruling that imposes hefty fines on teams refusing to play a match. "So far we have not been officially informed by the BCCI about any change in the plan," Rana said. "As the situation stands on Wednesday, the Indians will be here in September," he said. PCB chairman Tauqir Zia said on Saturday that India had agreed to play a Test in Pakistan as well as to participate in the Asia Cup in Pakistan next year. The two teams have not played in Pakistan since India's four-match tour in 1989. Pakistan however toured India in 1999 despite threats from Hindu fundamentalists. India cancelled a scheduled tour of Pakistan in December and later pulled out of the Sharjah series in the Gulf. The Indian government took the decision after accusing Pakistan of backing Muslim rebels in the disputed state of Kashmir, which has triggered two of the three wars between the South Asian neighbours since independence from Britain in 1947.

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