Hyderabad, September 29
The roaring welcome that Pakistan cricket team received upon its arrival in India reflects the love fans on either side of the border have for the players, said PCB supremo Zaka Ashraf in his desperate bid to do damage control after indirectly terming India “enemy nation”.
Pakistan arrived in Hyderabad on Wednesday, marking their first visit to India in seven years.
On the same day, the PCB announced a pay hike for its players. Following that, Ashraf had said the raise in the central contracts will provide extra motivation to the players going into the World Cup in an “enemy country”.
The millionaire banker’s loose comments went viral and it certainly didn’t go down well with the bigwigs of BCCI and on Friday, he clarified his stance.
“Chairman PCB’s Management Committee, Zaka Ashraf, has stated that the fantastic reception of the Pakistan men’s cricket team in India for the World Cup proves how much love the people of both countries have for each other’s players,” the PCB said in a statement.
Sensing that his “enemy nation” comments could have deeper implications, Ashraf was quick to distance himself from his earlier comment.
“This love was evident by the reception arranged at the Hyderabad airport. Zaka Ashraf personally congratulated the Indians over arranging a reception of this kind. He mentioned that whenever India and Pakistan step onto the cricket field, they emerge as traditional rivals but not as enemies,” it stated.
The two teams play each other in ICC events and Asia Cup due to the tense relations with the two countries. The players however get along well with each other. Babar Azam, Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf were left overwhelmed with the welcome at Hyderabad airport.
Ashraf is expected to attend the blockbuster India-Pakistan clash in Ahmedabad on October 14.
“Chairman Management Committee also emphasised that cricket between Pakistan and India have always been the centre of global attention which is why cricket between the two countries is considered more significant than the other contests in this sport.”
The statement also mentioned about starting bilateral ties once again but India’s next five-year FTP calendar doesn’t have space for a series with next door neighbours.
“He (Ashraf) expressed his desire for the restoration of bilateral cricketing relations between the two countries, allowing millions of cricket fans from both nations the opportunity to watch these players perform live.”
Ashraf concluded with expectation that Indian team will travel to Pakistan soon.
“He concluded by expressing his hope that the Indian cricket team would also visit Pakistan soon, enabling Pakistan to reciprocate the warmth and love shown by India to the Pakistan cricket team,” the statement added.
Pakistan media likely to get visas by Monday
Around 50 Pakistani journalists, who have applied for the Indian visa to cover the World Cup are likely get the clearance on Monday.
“The visas should come by Monday. As far as the fans are concerned, it is difficult to tell how many have applied for the visa,” said a PCB source.
Pakistan cricket team got their visas less than 48 hours before their travel to India, played their first warm-up game on Friday and their two main competition games in the city will be held on October 6 and October 10.
A visa application of a Pakistani national takes more time than usual as the country is on India’s prior reference (PRC) list.
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