BCCI President Roger Binny could not stop gushing over the warm and friendly treatment they received in Pakistan on their short visit to the neighbouring nation, while Board Vice President Rajeev Shukla asserted that cricket could be the bridge between the two countries that share a tense diplomatic relation.
Binny and Shukla returned to India via the Attari-Wagah border on Wednesday after watching Asia Cup matches at the Pakistan Cricket Board’s invitation.
It was the first instance in 17 years that the two BCCI office bearers travelled to Pakistan. They had crossed the border on Monday.
“We had a very good meeting in Pakistan. We received very good hospitality. They took care of us very well. The main agenda was to watch cricket and to sit and discuss things with them. Overall, it was a very good trip,” Binny told PTI after their arrival.
“Pakistan treated us very well. They went out of the way to make us comfortable.” The two countries compete against each other only in ICC or ACC events, as bilateral cricket ties have been suspended due to diplomatic tension between the two nations.
The last time an Indian cricket team travelled to Pakistan was back in 2008 for the Asia Cup. Pakistan last hosted India for a bilateral series in 2006.
Pakistan last visited India in 2012 for a white-ball tour.
Asked about the possibility of resumption of bilateral cricket with Pakistan, Binny reiterated that they can’t take a call on that.
“BCCI can’t say. It is a government issue, and they will have to take a call. We need to wait and see. And hopefully, it will happen because the (ODI) World Cup is coming up, Pakistan team will be in India to play.” India and Pakistan are currently engaged in the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka and will lock horns again in the much-anticipated World Cup clash on October 14 in Ahmedabad.
Although there were reservations about Pakistan travelling to India for the World Cup, the PCB eventually agreed.
Shukla also praised PCB for its hospitality.
“The meeting was very good. The Pakistan Cricket Board took very good care of us. The security was tremendous, all the arrangements were fabulous. It was a goodwill visit for cricket which went well.
“The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) President Mr Jay Shah is also BCCI secretary, so keeping in mind that, we had this visit. BCCI enjoys a good relationship with all the ACC members, that’s why we also visited Sri Lanka.” On being asked if cricket can be a medium to restore peace between the two countries, he said, “Cricket has always been an important medium even before. Take the 2004 tour, for example; the atmosphere that was created resulted in great friendship and trade delegations. The shopkeepers were not even taking money from people, that was a great atmosphere.”
The first game between India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup was washed out, and the two teams will test each other again on Sunday in Colombo before a possible meeting in the final.