Islamabad: The revival of competition between Pakistan and India is top of the Asian Cricket Council's (ACC) agenda, the council's new president Mohammad Ali Asgher said on Friday.
"It's a big loss for cricket that due to politics, Pakistan and India do not play ... but as the new ACC president and a (Bangladeshi) parliamentarian I will try my best to revive cricketing relations between the two countries," Asgher said. "I will ask the Bangladeshi government to bring Pakistan and India back to the cricket fields." India and Pakistan last played in Bangladesh in June 2000 after which competition was suspended amid allegations from Delhi that Pakistan was actively supporting Kashmiri separatists. Asgher is in Pakistan to take over as ACC president from Pakistan's Lieutenant General Tauqir Zia. "The deadlock between Pakistan and India has been hampering the progress of Asian cricket," said Asgher, who is also the president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB). Since the breakdown in relations India has refused to send its team to Pakistan, boycotting a full tour in December 2000 and an Asian Championship Test in September last year, and pulling its team from two events in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. "The matter was also discussed at the International Cricket Council in June, and we must make all-out efforts to restore (competition)." The ICC also decided to send former South African President Nelson Mandela to mediate the issue. Regarding Bangladesh's poor show in international cricket, Asgher said his team just needs time. "Sri Lanka and New Zealand took several years to win their first Test and we assure you we will not take that much time," he said. "Our target is the 2007 World Cup and we aim to improve and match other teams by then." Since attaining Test status with the ICC two years ago, Bangladesh has lost 12 of 13 Tests and has also lost 50 of its 53 Limited Over Internationals.
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