Even as the Asia Cup 2023 chaos continues, Shahid Afridi, former captain of Pakistan cricket team, has urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ‘let cricket happen’. During a media interaction on the sidelines of Legends League Cricket in Qatari capital Doha, Afridi said that there was no doubt that India’s BCCI was a strong board. But with great power comes great responsibility, Afridi said, urging the Indian side to make ‘more friends’ instead of enemies. The nuclear-armed neighbours had snapped the cricket ties after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. Since then, all India-Pakistan cricket matches have been played on neutral grounds.
‘Aap Indian cricket team ko bhejein toh, hum unhe sar aankhon par rakhenge (Just send the Indian cricket team once, we will take care of them with utmost love),’ Afridi said in Doha. The maverick all-rounder said that this was not the generation of wars and cricket diplomacy can help a lot in restoring the ties. Talking about the 2005 series, he said that the love and adulation for the Indian cricketers has always been there. He recalled instances of Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh going shopping or to visiting restaurants and no Pakistani entrepreneur used to charge them. Remembering the ‘beauty of two nations,’ Afridi said that he still maintains good terms with many Indian cricketers. In fact, he said that once, Suresh Raina gave him a bat.
During the interaction, Afridi also made a big revelation. With naming anyone, he said that once someone from Mumbai had made a threat call to the Pakistan cricket team. But his squad decided to set all that aside and traveled to India nonetheless.
The statements by Afridi come ahead of the key Asian Cricket Council meet that will be held in Dubai. The ACC meet will decide the fate of the much-anticipated Asia Cup 2023. The ICC will also hold discussion in this regard. Last year, Jay Shah, who is also the ACC chairman, had said that the Indian cricket team will not travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup. In a tit-for-tat, Pakistan had said that its players will not travel to India for the ICC ODI World Cup if its hosting rights for the Asia Cup are denied.