Praising the “fantastic reception” received by the Pakistan team in India for the World Cup, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Interim Management Committee head Zaka Ashraf has expressed hope that the national team would continue to receive the same warmth throughout the tournament, it emerged today.
Zaka’s comments follow his recent viral video in which he emphasised the importance of maintaining high morale among players regardless of the country they visit, even if it’s “an enemy country where the tournament is being held”. Although he didn’t explicitly mention India, it was widely interpreted as a reference to the neighbouring country.
In the video, Ashraf was heard saying, “We have granted these contracts to our players with great care and affection. In Pakistan’s history, no one has ever allocated such a substantial amount to our players as I have. My aim was to ensure that our players maintain high spirits when they travel to compete, whether it’s in an enemy country or anywhere else in the world.”
In a statement issued by the PCB on Friday, he appeared to soften his tone. Ashraf was quoted as saying that the “fantastic reception” of the Pakistan men’s cricket team in India for the World Cup demonstrated the mutual love between the people of both countries for each other’s players.
“Whenever India and Pakistan step onto the cricket field, they emerge as traditional rivals but not as enemies,” Zaka said.
“Zaka Ashraf personally congratulated the Indians over arranging a reception of this kind,” the statement added.
He voiced his optimism that Pakistan cricketers would be welcomed with the same warmth throughout the entire World Cup, and “Indian fans would have the opportunity to witness the best cricket from the Pakistani players.”
Ashraf recalled that historically, whenever the Pakistan men’s cricket team visited India, they were warmly and cordially received, much like how Indian teams were welcomed in Pakistan.
He emphasised that cricket had consistently played a unifying role between the two nations, with cricketers from both countries remaining popular and beloved by fans in both India and Pakistan.
Ashraf also underlined that cricket matches between Pakistan and India had consistently captured global attention, making them more significant than other contests in the sport.
He expressed his wish for the revival of bilateral cricketing relations between the two countries and also hoped for a reciprocal visit by the Indian cricket team to Pakistan in the near future, allowing Pakistan to reciprocate the warmth and affection extended by India to the Men in Green.
Currently, Pakistan is in India to participate in the World Cup, an event that takes place every four years.
The mega event is scheduled to take place from Oct 5 to Nov 19 in India. Pakistan’s opening match in the tournament is set for Oct 6 against the Netherlands in Hyderabad, while the highly anticipated match against arch-rivals India will take place in Ahmedabad on Oct 14.