x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

India do not want to play in the UAE, says Pakistan cricket official

Indian cricket’s ruling body blocked a recent proposal by their counterparts in Pakistan to stage a series between the rival nations in the UAE.

Protestors campaign in Karachi over the exclusion of Saeed Ajmal from the ICC Awards nominations.
Protestors campaign in Karachi over the exclusion of Saeed Ajmal from the ICC Awards nominations.

DUBAI // Indian cricket’s ruling body blocked a recent proposal by their counterparts in Pakistan to stage a series between the rival nations in the UAE, according to Zaka Ashraf, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Cricket ties were halted between the two nations following the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008. The PCB had initially offered to revive the sport’s most bankable fixture on neutral territory in the Emirates, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India resisted.

The Pakistan side have now been invited to play limited-overs matches in India this winter, the first time the sides will have met in a bilateral series in five years.

“We have already suggested [playing a series in this country] to the BCCI, but they have questions over the UAE – they don’t want to come and play here,” Ashraf said.

“The UAE is our second home, and we are grateful for the support offered by the Emirates Cricket Board. We try to play as much cricket as we can in the United Arab Emirates, but I am still hopeful cricket will return to Pakistan.”

The PCB are now occupied with the continuing battle to have Saeed Ajmal’s exclusion from the International Cricket Council awards reviewed by the sport’s Dubai-based rulers.

The ICC have already thrown out one official complaint about the off-spinner’s omission from the 2012 shortlist for Cricketer of the Year.

Now Pakistan are considering boycotting the awards ceremony in Colombo, Sri Lanka, next month over the issue.

“It would be an extreme step,” Ashraf said. “We are under tremendous pressure.

“There have been demonstrations in Pakistan, people in Lahore and Karachi came out to support Saeed Ajmal. It has even been taken up in parliament in Pakistan. There is a big debate going on and I don’t know what the decision is going to be on that motion.”

The fact Pakistan are fighting an external battle is hardly unusual – and at least in beats infighting.

After their series win over Australia in Dubai, Mohammed Hafeez, the Twenty20 captain, said his side are united as they set off for Sri Lanka for the World Twenty20.

“I know the expectation of the whole nation is always there whenever the Pakistan cricket team plays anywhere in the world, especially when a mega-event is concerned,” Hafeez said.

“Everybody wants to win the World Cup. Let me tell you, the team is very united at the moment and I am very pleased that whenever I ask anybody to do their role for the team they are there to deliver.”

Dav Whatmore, the Pakistan coach, has also assured the country’s public the national team are focused ahead of the 20-over tournament in Sri Lanka.

“We are preparing in the best way possible,” Whatmore said. “This form of the game is very volatile, one or two overs can change the fortunes of the match, and in some cases one or two balls. We will do our best.”

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