Thatscricket - News - Government refusal knocks officials hopes for six
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
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New Delhi: The Indian government's refusal to allow cricket diplomacy with arch-rival Pakistan has knocked for six sporting officials' hopes of the two national sides playing a Test any time soon.[an error occurred while processing this directive]India had been due to play its first Test in Pakistan in 12 years from September 12 to 16 in its opening match of the Asian Test Championship, which also involves Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.The decision not to play Pakistan in Lahore, reportedly taken in a meeting between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani and Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh late on Tuesday, was a setback for both Indian cricket officials and fans.Firebrand Sports Minister Uma Bharti on Monday warned that India would not be coerced into taking part in the championships in Pakistan."After all, sports is not the only thing the government has to think about. The country and its policies are of greater importance than sports," she said.India has refused to let the national team take part in any Test series with Pakistan, which it accuses of backing "cross-border terrorism" in the disputed state of Kashmir. Pakistan denies the charge."It is a sad day for Indian cricket," said Madan Lal, a national selector and member of the 1983 side that won the Limited Overs World Cup. Playing Pakistan could have eased the increasing tension between the two countries," he said."We have so far not received any official information regarding India's refusal to play in Pakistan," said Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Jaywant Lele. He said he was unsure when the next Test between two of the sporting world's most bitter rivals would take place, a view echoed by former International Cricket Council chairman Jagmohan Dalmiya. "Frankly speaking, I do not know when the Test matches between the two nations will be resumed," he said."What I know is that the championship will lose much of its attraction and charm in India's absence," said Dalmiya, who is also head of the Asian Cricket Foundation. "India's refusal to play Pakistan in the Asian championship is a great setback for Asian cricket and the ACC will face a huge financial loss," Asian Cricket Council Secretary Zakir Hussain Syed said."The ACC made all the plans and schedules with the Board of Control for Cricket in India's consent and they had assured us of their participation, but this latest decision is very disappointing."