Indian elections behind poor turnout?

Published: Saturday, April 10, 2004, 22:09 [IST]
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Lahore :The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has blamed the Indian government for the poor turnout for the Test matches, saying Board of Control For Cricket in India (BCCI) insisted on playing the One-dayers first at the behest of their government in view of the coming Indian elections.

"We wanted to play the Test matches first in our original itinerary, but the BCCI insisted that the One-dayers be played first," PCB Chief Executive Officer Rameez Raja said.

"I think they went by what their Government said. The government thought that the One-dayers, if played later, will take the charm away from their election rallies," Raja said during an interaction with the students of the Lahore University of Management Sciences last night.

However, he said irrespective of the poor turnout, the way the tour had gone off so far, it proved that Pakistan was a "sporting" country and appreciated "good cricket".

"It has been fantastic, I am proud of the people who have supported good cricket and even cheered the Indians. It is a message for the rest of the world, it shows Pakistan is a safe place to play cricket."

Raja also said the Pakistan team will tour India either later this year or in the beginning of next year to play five One-dayers and three Test matches.

"It will be a reciprocal visit so we will play the same number of matches," Raja said adding "we wanted to play more matches on this tour but the BCCI thought this would be the ideal fixture. Since they were coming after a long gap, we agreed."

Raja also confirmed that a "grand" farewell would be given to former captain and fast bowler Waqar Younis, set to announce his retirement from international cricket during the third and series-deciding Test beginning in Rawlapindi on Tuesday.

"We have decided to give him a grand farewell. He is one of the great Pakistan cricketers and we want to give him a befitting send-off," Raja said. Asked why a similar farewell was not given to former captains Wasim Akram and Saeed Anwar who had retired from international cricket last year, he said the PCB was not informed about their decisions.

"I just want to put the record straight. Wasim announced his retirement outside the country and he never consulted with us. Saeed also did not bother to inform us about his retirement. What can we do if they don't tell us", he said.

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