Home ministry will decide if the Indian cricket team will travel to Pakistan: Sports Minister Thakur

NEW DELHI: Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Thursday said the home ministry will take a call on the Indian cricket team’s travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup next year but feels chances of the players going across the border “aren’t much”.
Thakur though is expecting that Pakistan team will come to India to compete in the 50-over World Cup next year, saying “all are welcome”.
BCCI secretary Jay Shah, who is also the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) chief, had on Tuesday said that Indian team will not travel to Pakistan for the continental event and they would like to compete in the tournament at a neutral venue.
It had prompted Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to say that it may affect its team’s participation in the World Cup in India.
“All teams who qualify for (World Cup) are invited (to compete on the Indian soil). Many times Pakistan teams have come to India and played. I feel India is not in a position to be dictated (by someone) and there is no reason for anyone to do that.
“I expect all countries to come and compete,” Thakur told a select gathering of journalists when asked about the controversy that erupted after Shah’s statement.
Asked on the possibility of the Indian team travelling to the neighbouring country for Asia Cup next year, Thakur said, “Possibilities are always there. Who thought there will be COVID-19. Anything can happen but the chances (of Indian team travelling to Pakistan) are not much.
“…It’s a decision that will be taken by the home ministry. Overall, players’ safety and security is an important matter.”
It was pointed out that international teams have started touring Pakistan, of late, but Thakur deflected the question.
Asked further, Thakur said,”That is a security concern. The government will take a call on that. Let the time come, let us see the situation at that time.”
Thakur spoke after it was announced that the fifth edition of the Khelo India Youth Games will be held across eight cities in Madhya Pradesh from January 31 to February 11.
A ‘disappointed’ Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday requested the Asian Cricket Council to convene an emergency meeting and said “such statements can spilt the Asian and international cricket communities” and impact Pakistan’s visit to India for the 2023 World Cup.
India haven’t travelled to Pakistan since the 2008 Asia Cup, and after the Mumbai terror attack on November 26 that year, the scheduled bilateral series in early 2009 was cancelled.
Pakistan did travel to India for a short six-match white-ball series in 2012, but in the last 10 years, there hasn’t been any bilateral cricket. The two teams have only played each other at various ICC and ACC events.
The PCB is irked as international cricket has resumed in the country with all top nations like England, Australia, West Indies travelling there to play Tests and white-ball rubbers.
“The PCB is now prepared to take hard decisions and play hard ball because it is also aware that the ICC and ACC events will have to face commercial liabilities and losses if Pakistan do not play India in these multi-team events,” a senior PCB source told PTI on the condition of anonymity. —PTI


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