Doha: Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has urged the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to resolve all outstanding issues that have stalled cricketing ties between the two countries and facilitate the return of one of the greatest rivalries in the gentleman's game.
Recently, Afridi's team Asia Lions defeated World Giants and emerge as the new champions of the Legends League Cricket (LLC) Masters. In the final held at the Asian Town Cricket Stadium in Doha, Asia Lions, cheered on by a packed crowd, scored an emphatic seven-wicket victory with 23 balls to spare.
"BCCI should resolve all issues affecting our cricketing ties. PCB wants India to come here to play. We are even willing to go there and play. However, for this, the BCCI should talk to the PCB once. We want to talk. We always take the first step and want the BCCI to reciprocate. I urge the BCCI to not arrive at any decision just like that. They should talk to the PCB chairman at least once before arriving at any decision," Afridi told ANI.
Both teams have not participated in bilateral competitions in more than a decade owing to the political tensions prevailing between the two nations. The last bilateral series was back in 2012 when the Men in Green toured India for three ODIs and as many T20Is.
Afridi, who recently served as the interim chief selector, said the PCB is not a weak board.
"What can we do if we want to befriend another board and it doesn't reciprocate in kind? Our board isn't a weak one. But there's little we can do if we want to be friends and the other side doesn't respond. The BCCI, as a cricket governing body, is very strong. When you have so much power and clout, you become more responsible. You should try to make more friends, not enemies. Making more friends only makes you stronger," Afridi added.
While the two countries had recently faced off in ICC and ACC events -- the T20 World Cup in Australia and the Asia Cup in the Emirates -- hardcore cricket fans from both nations do miss the bilateral engagements that make their rivalry arguably the greatest in the world of cricket.
Although Pakistan has been awarded the hosting rights for the upcoming Asia Cup, a multilateral T20 event involving all cricketing nations from Asia, the PCB and the BCCI are locked in a war of words amid India's reluctance to tour the country for the event.
The PCB has issued multiple statements that if the Asia cup doesn't happen in Pakistan this year, they will not send their team for the ODI World Cup, which is to be hosted by India later this year.
Last year, Asian Cricket Council (ACC) chairperson Jay Shah revealed that India will not travel to Pakistan for Asia Cup due to security reasons and the tournament will be played at some neutral venue, which is to be decided in the second round of the Executive Board meeting of ACC members this month.
"Talks are ongoing. These (Jay Shah's claim of the Asia Cup being shifted out of Pakistan) are just statements that keep coming. In time, we will release an official statement on whether we are coming to India (for the ODI World Cup) or not," Afridi signed off saying.