India’s failure to provide security to Pakistan’s commentators and match officials, following Shiv Sena’s hooliganism, has forced Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar to quit the ongoing India-South Africa series and head home early, ESPNcricinfo reported.
The development comes a day after the International Cricket Council (ICC) withdrew Pakistan's Aleem Dar from officiating in the rest of the India-South Africa series after threats from far-right political group Shiv Sena.
Akram’s agent Arsalan Haider told Cricinfo that after commentating in fourth one-day international in Chennai, the former Pakistan captain will return home on October 23, along with Akhtar who is also part of Star Sports' commentary team.
The final ODI between India and South Africa is scheduled to be played in Mumbai on October 25.
Mumbai has traditionally been a stronghold of Shiv Sena and the party has in the past, too, protested against the participation of Pakistani players. However, it is worth noting that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), often labelled as a “Hindu revivalist” party, is in power in the state.
The drama began on Monday when the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan was due to meet the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief Shashank Manohar.
Manohar had invited Shaharyar to discuss the prospect of a bilateral series between the two countries. But as soon as Shaharyar reached the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai, some workers of Sena stormed into the building protesting the PCB chief’s visit and shouting anti-Pakistan slogans.
Anurag Thakur, the BCCI secretary, while talking to Cricinfo, urged the Indian people to maintain the country’s image ahead of the World T20 in 2016.
“There was a possibility of a protest in Saurashtra too where more than 50000 spectators attended. What is the threat and what is the perception, I can't get into it,” said Thakur.
“India has to host the World T20 in 2016 so it is the responsibility of every Indian to maintain the image that we have of appreciating and enjoying performances of even the opponents. Political issues should be kept aside.”
India-Pakistan series not discussed in PCB-BCCI meeting
It is clear though that the BCCI is unwilling to move forward on the prospects of cricket between the two teams and will let the Indian government have a final say on the matter.
PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan met Indian Premier League chief Rajiv Shukla on Tuesday but in a bizarre statement by the latter, 'cricket was not discussed.'
Shukla described the meeting between officials of the two boards at his residence as a 'courtesy call' after Monday's developments.
“It was a courtesy call, we exchanged pleasantries, there were no official talks. Whatever talks happen will be done by the BCCI President, he will take a final call on these matters,” DNAIndia quoted Shukla as saying after the meeting.
“The series, whether it will happen or not, where it will happen, how it will happen, will be decided only after talks, if at all the talks take place.
“We should not jump to conclusions. Process of dialogue should be on. When that dialogue will happen is upto the BCCI President,” Shukla said.