NEW DELHI: India captain Rohit Sharma says he wouldn’t mind playing Tests against Pakistan at a neutral venue as it would be a “great contest” against the “superb bowling line-up” of the arch-rivals, the Press Trust of India news agency reported on Thursday.

India and Pakistan have not played bilateral cricket ever since the latter’s tour across the border for a One-day International series in 2012. The two countries, however, routinely face off in International Cricket Council (ICC) events.

“I totally believe that they are a good team, superb bowling line-up, good contest, if we play overseas,” Sharma said on Club Prairie Fire, a Youtube show hosted by former Australian keeper-batter Adam Gilchrist and former England skipper Michael Vaughan. “The last Test was played way back in 2007-08.

“Yeah, I would love to, it would be a great contest between two sides. We play them in ICC trophies, pure cricket I am looking at, great contest, so why not?”, he said when asked whether Indo-Pak Tests were possible at a neutral venue like England or Australia.

Led by Shaheen Shah Afridi, Pakistan’s traditionally pace-reliant bowling line-up currently features exciting talents like Naseem Shah, who is only 21, and Aamer Jamal.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has maintained that any decision on bilateral cricket with Pakistan will hinge on approval from the Indian government, which has so far not permitted cricketing engagement with the arch-foes.

Pakistan, on the other hand, has been aggressively pushing for bilateral engagement with India, even taking it up at ICC forums at every available opportunity.

Last year, India refused to travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup, which was eventually conducted in a hybrid model. All of India’s scheduled games in Pakistan were relocated to Sri Lanka.

The next year’s Champions Trophy will be another bone of contention between the two countries as the tournament is set to be held in Pakistan, which has declared that it won’t agree to any change of venue to accommodate India.

The ICC, on its part, has stated that it won’t force any member nation to disregard government advisory.

“… ICC Board’s position remains that it doesn’t expect its members to go against any policy/instructions issued by its own government,” an ICC official had stated recently.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2024

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