Hopeful of Indo-Pak series but options open: PCB chief

Kolkata: With serious doubts hanging over the proposed bilateral cricket series between India and Pakistan, PCB chief Shaharyar Khan on Thursday said they are open to “options” ranging from boycotting ties to demanding compensation if the BCCI fails to honour the MOU signed between the two boards.

But Shaharyar said he is still hopeful of the series taking place in December and would meet BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur in a week’s time to decide on the fate of the rubber that is hanging in limbo in the wake of the current political tensions between the two countries.

“I received a reply from Thakur that we will meet in Dubai and we will probably decide what is to be done. The final decision of course lies with the Government of India,” the PCB chairman told reporters after paying his last tribute to Jagmohan Dalmiya who passed away on September 20.

“In spite of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), if the BCCI does not honour its own signature then we’ll see what is to be done,” Shaharyar said.

“If they don’t honour it (MOU) for political reasons we have options open to us. We will suffer financial and other losses.

“Boycott is an extreme option but of course it’s an option. I never used the term ‘boycott’, you people know me and I am not one to give warnings and threats. But it’s surely a thing that if you don’t accept your signed agreement then definitely I’ll demand for compensation,” he said, ” adding, the series is an agreement but if it does not happen, it’s a reasonable thing to demand compensation.”

Still hopeful of the series happening, an optimistic Shaharyar said PCB will keep ICC aware of the development and call for their suggestion.

“Now we still have some hope that the series will take place. We will cross the bridge when it comes but I feel BCCI should honour the agreement,” he said.

The BCCI secretary is likely to meet Shaharyar on the sidelines of the ICC meeting in Dubai from October 8-13.

India is scheduled to play two Tests and five ODIs and two T20Is in Pakistan’s adopted home venue of UAE beginning in December.

The PCB chairman also said that he would give a reminder about the MOU to BCCI presidential candidate Shashank Manohar, who is likely to be elected at its SGM in Mumbai on October 4.

“I will remind him that BCCI has signed an MOU and is he going to honour it or not…that’s the basic issue. I have a high regard for him (Manohar). I hope when I am in Delhi I will congratulate him in advance and will assure him of my cooperation,” Shaharyar said. .
India, who had stopped cricketing ties with Pakistan in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai attack in 2008, had signed an MOU to play six series under the 2015-2023 Future Tours Programme (FTP), subject to clearance from the Government of India.

“I cannot move the Government of India but my Prime Minister in New York has stated that the tour should continue despite the bitter relationship,” the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief said.

“India-Pakistan relationship always had ups and downs and if it’s down at the moment there would be up later. Let us use cricket as the bridge of peace and move forward.

“PCB says politics in sport should be kept separately.

Political ties always had ups and downs but that should not affect our cricket series,” Shaharyar said.

Shaharyar and his wife Minnoo called on the Dalmiyas at their 10 Alipore Road Residence and fondly remembered the former BCCI president who passed away after a massive cardiac arrest last month.

Remembering Dalmiya as a ‘friend’ of PCB, Shaharyar said: “I have come to Kolkata for the sole purpose of paying my last respect to the family of Jagmohan Dalmiya who not only was a personal friend but I believe he was a friend of India and Pakistan cricket boards.”

Shaharyar and his wife had earlier visited the city in May this year to congratulate Dalmiya of being re-elected as the BCCI chief.

Recalling the 2004 Friendship Series, Shaharyar said it was Dalmiya who was instrumental in holding that hugely successful series.

“When I look back, in 2004 when we were in a difficult situation and many people insisted that no team should visit Pakistan it was Dalmiya who insisted to travel.

“Two days before the tour was supposed to begin he rang me up and said we have convinced the players but their wives are not agreeing. It was an amazing tour and the welcome the team had received in Pakistan was wonderful. We did not ask to do this, it was spontaneous,” he said.

“After three days in Karachi, the likes of Tendulkar and Dravid told us that they don’t want security. This is the memory I carry with me.

“When we came here in 1999, we had a similar situation and fought with administration and we played and we too were amazingly welcomed by the Indian public,” the 81-year-old diplomat-turned cricket administrator recalled.

“I feel whatever the relationship between the two countries we should go ahead and play cricket because that itself brings public to public confidence building measure,” he said. (PTI)