x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Afridi says Pakistan love playing in India

The Pakistan captain denies having reservations at the prospect of playing the co-hosts in a potential quarter-final clash. World Cup news

COLOMBO // Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan captain, enjoys playing in India more than any foreign country and would have no problems if his squad had to compete in World Cup knockout matches there.

"I have always enjoyed playing cricket in India," Afridi said. "I never enjoy (playing) anywhere more than in India."

Pakistan have not toured India since 2007 and diplomatic relations have been strained between the two governments since a terror attack at Mumbai in November 2008. India postponed their scheduled tour to Pakistan in early 2009.

Pakistan were originally scheduled to be one of the four co-hosts of the World Cup, but were stripped of the rights after a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus en route to a Test match at Lahore. Many of those matches were switched to India.

There's a history of strained relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors, with bilateral cricket tours subject to that.

Pakistan toured India in 1999 even after threats from a political party Shiv Sena, which dug up Feroz Shah Kotla's pitch at New Delhi to warn them off. "We have played in India in worse situations," Aridi said. "But we have no problems and have never feared going there."

The venue for Pakistan's quarter-finals is subject to the final placings in group A where India, England, West Indies and Bangladesh are battling for three spots with South Africa safely in the den, but that isn't bothering Afridi.

Besides, the Pakistan skipper said if his team has to play any of the knockout matches in India it could help reduce tensions between the two countries.

"I think a cricket match has always brought the people of both the countries together and has the capacity to improve relations between the two countries," he said. "If we go there it will be after a long time and you ask any (Pakistan player) he will tell you that we have enjoyed cricket in India."

Pietersen's hernia surgery successful

The England Cricket Board (ECB) says Kevin Pietersen has had successful surgery for the hernia which forced him out of the World Cup. The ECB medical officer Dr Nick Peirce said Pietersen had the routine operation for a hernia on the left side, while a small hernia was identified and repaired on the right side.

Peirce added that Pietersen is expected to be fit for England's first Test of the summer on May 26 after a brief period of rest and a rehabilitation program.

New Zealand may give rest to injured players against Sri Lanka

Daniel Vettori, the captain, and paceman Kyle Mills are likely to miss New Zealand's last Group A match against Sri Lanka, where the result will help shape World Cup quarter-final positions.

New Zealand Cricket on Wednesday said Vettori, who missed the last match with an injured right knee, and Mills, who hobbled off after bowling just 2.4 overs in the win over Canada on Sunday, were "unlikely to recover in time" for Friday's match.