Some of Pakistan’s top cricketers including Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar have supported the restoration of bilateral cricket ties with India and hoped the issue was discussed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his flying visit to India.
Former Pakistan speedster Akhtar pointed out that cricket had always played a big role in bringing the people of the two countries closer.
“I am happy that our Prime Minister is in India and I hope cricket ties are discussed in these big meetings. Because it is necessary to have bilateral cricket ties between the two countries,” Mr. Akhtar said.
“It is particularly important for Pakistan as whenever Pakistan and India play against each other these matches bring financial rewards for both boards and the PCB in particular needs a financial boost,” he said.
Mr. Akhtar said that he would also like to see the issue of Pakistani players in the IPL being resolved soon. “If things continue the way they are, I have a feeling by end of this year the Indians will take a decision on allowing our players in the IPL,” he stated.
Flamboyant all-rounder Afridi also wants to see more Indo-Pak series’ in future. “I hope with our prime minister also going to India, the Indian board responds positively and we see bilateral matches soon,” he said.
Former Pakistan skipper Younis Khan also backed the restoration of bilateral cricket ties.
“Our Prime Minister himself has played cricket and is a keen student and follower of cricket so I am sure this subject would have been discussed by him in these meetings,” Mr. Younis told reporters in Lahore.
Mr. Younis hoped that the cricket ties between the two countries would be revived in order to help the development of the game.
“It will be really good if cricket between Pakistan and India is restored because both sides miss the rivalry during such a series.
“The PCB is making efforts to bring back international cricket to Pakistan which would be vital in improving the country’s economy, since infrastructure in the cities would have to be upgraded.”
“I think the people in both countries want to see both teams play against each other and if India tours Pakistan it will be a major breakthrough for the sport and for Pakistan,” he added.
Pakistan’s former Test pacer, Sarfaraz Nawaz pointed out that cricket could serve as a big tool to improve relations and create a good atmosphere for talks on more serious issues.
“I think the visit by PM Nawaz Sharif is a good start and cricket will benefit eventually,” he added.
Meanwhile ‘Sultan of Swing’ Wasim Akram, who is Kolkata Knight Riders bowling consultant, and Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal had also recently called for Pak players to be allowed in the IPL and hoped both countries would resume bilateral series soon.