KARACHI: The Champions League final between Pakistan and India was a stark and painful reminder to the cricketing world regarding what it is missing out on since the abandonment of bilateral ties between these two great teams.
It has now been more than five years since these two clashed against each other outside of an International Cricket Council (ICC) world event, and the calls for the resumption of ties are now growing ever louder.
“Whenever Pakistan and India come face-to-face in any tournament, the excitement of cricket fans all around the world reaches its peak,” said former Test cricketer Salahuddin, while talking to The Express Tribune. “Fans across the borders get to interact with each other and that not only helps build relations on an individual level but it also helps soften the image of the two countries in their minds.”
Salahuddin feels only those possessing malicious intentions are against Pakistan and India clashing on the cricketing field.
“There are some extremist who are against a [bilateral] series and they are the main hurdle,” he said. “Real fans of cricket from both nations will almost always favour a bilateral series but the extremists have an issue with it and that also prevents the two nations from building a positive relation with each other.”
The 70-year-old feels anybody who loves cricket has to love a Pakistan-India clash with everything that it comes with. “All the emotions, passion and love the fans have for their countries attract not only fans of these two teams but also hundreds of thousands of neutrals. Both teams play their heart out in this game and that is why it is the most-watched game in all of sport.”
‘Nothing matches Pakistan-India clash’
Pakistani off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, who played 10 ODIs and four T20Is against India, added that nothing quite matches a Pakistan-India game in all of cricket.
“There is no other game that has as many emotions and passion involved in one game as a game between these two great rivals. I have faced India and I know what type of passion there is among the players — you don’t get that in any other match.”
Ajmal made his international 50-over bow against India and still has fond memories of it. “I have always enjoyed playing against India since you are sure that each and every player from both teams will give it his all,” he said. “I made my ODI debut against India in Karachi; I know what it meant to me. Facing our rivals in the first match is something one never thinks about. I was also able to take a wicket, which was like a dream to me.”
Ajmal, like Salahuddin, also believes that the two teams should resume playing international cricket outside of ICC events. “I think the bilateral series really test a player’s talent and one between these two will really get the fans excited,” he said. “This is not only good for the fans of these two nations but also for neutral cricketing fans all around the world. Not only will this help cricket but it will also bring the two nations closer together.”