No change in India-Pakistan World Cup match, says Richardson

Updated February 20, 2019

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Senior BCCI officials say not playing Pakistan in World Cup is a "long shot" as of now. ─ AFP/File
Senior BCCI officials say not playing Pakistan in World Cup is a "long shot" as of now. ─ AFP/File

NEW DELHI: Amid speculation surrounding India-Pakistan World Cup clash owing to the recent Pulwama attack on Indian security personnel, the International Cricket Council on Tuesday said it does not foresee any change in the schedule of the mega event starting on May 30.

In the wake of the attack, former India Test spinner Harbhajan Singh wanted the Indian team to call off their June 16 match against Pakistan in Manchester.

However, when asked about the matter, ICC's Dave Richardson made it clear that there is no such indication as of now that the match will be cancelled.

“Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this terrible incident and we will be monitoring the situation with our Members,” Richardson said, offering his condolences on the terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

“There is no indication that any [of the] matches at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup will not go ahead as planned,” Richardson said in a statement.

“Sport, in particular cricket, has the wonderful ability to bring people together and unite communities and we will work with our Members on that basis,” he added.

Even the men who mattered in the BCCI said that not playing Pakistan in the World Cup is a “long shot” as of now.

“Harbhajan had shared his point of view but he didn’t clarify what happens if we are again pitted against them in semi-final or suppose final. Does that mean that we will be forfeiting World Cup semifinal or final? So, we are all talking about hypothetical situations,” a senior BCCI official said.

“For the record, India played Pakistan in a World Cup game in England in 1999 edition when Kargil War was at its peak,” the official added.

On Monday, Harbhajan told a news channel: “India should not play Pakistan in the World Cup. India are powerful enough to win the World Cup without having to play Pakistan.

“This is a difficult time. The attack that has happened, it was unbelievable and it’s very wrong. Strict action will surely be taken by the government. When it comes to cricket, I don’t think we should have any relations with them otherwise they will keep treating us like this,” he added.

Harbhajan said India doesn’t need to revive any sort of sporting ties with Pakistan as a mark of respect for the CRPF personnel killed in the Pulwama attack.

“I don’t think India should play the World Cup match against Pakistan. Country comes first and we are all standing behind our country. Cricket or hockey or sports, it should be kept aside because this is a huge thing and repeatedly our soldiers are killed,” the veteran off-spinner had said.

Many affiliated units have removed photos and portraits of Pakistani cricketers with one of the oldest units, Cricket Club of India (CCI), leading the way by covering a portrait of Pakistan Prime Minister and former cricketer Imran Khan.

Punjab Cricket Associations (PCA) and Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) have also removed the pictures of Pakistani players.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2019