Desperate Pakistan urges ICC to influence India to play

Published: Friday, December 27, 2002, 2:17 [IST]
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Karachi: Pakistan is pushing the International Cricket Council (ICC) to use its influence over India for the resumption of cricket ties between the two arch-rivals, a top official said Thursday.

"We are trying that India gives us a final reply and in a tele-conference we have requested the ICC officials to give us a target time," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Lieutenant General Tauqir Zia told reporters. India is scheduled to tour Pakistan for three Tests and three One-day Internationals in April-May next year but the tour is in jeopardy due to political tensions between the nuclear rivals. India has maintained a boycott of cricket with Pakistan for more than two years, with the government in New Delhi accusing Islamabad of sending militants to foment trouble in the disputed Indian zone of the divided Himalayan state of Kashmir. The two countries have not played each other since an Asia Cup league match in Dhaka, Bangladesh in June 2000. "We don't want to keep the next series in a limbo and have already started discussions over arranging a tri-series with Sri Lanka and England ... next year," said Zia. ICC president Malcolm Gray said during his visit to Pakistan earlier this month that the ICC believed "sports should not be used for political ends" but acknowledged that he had limited power to resolve the dispute. Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf told Gray that Pakistan would be prepared to play India at a neutral venue provided Pakistan's tour to India in 2004 was also played at a neutral venue. Indian Sports Minister Vikram Verma has said there is no chance of cricket between the two countries unless "cross-border terrorism is put to an end." Pakistan and India are to play each other in a World Cup 2003 game at Centurion in South Africa on March 1.

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