Indian sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday supported Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI)’s decision to play bilateral series with Pakistan in Sri Lanka.
“Whatever initiative the BCCI is taking, it needs to be supported by us. The BCCI has always been taking the initiatives for the promotion of games and also for the promotion of relationship,” Sonowal told ANI.
Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Rajeev Shukla had earlier confirmed that Sri Lanka has been decided as the neutral venue for the series between India and Pakistan in December.
“India-Pakistan series will happen tentatively from December 15 in Sri Lanka which will mark the resumption of cricketing ties between the two sides,” Shukla told media last week.
Shukla’s comments came after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gave his nod to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to play the series against India in Sri Lanka.
But, as Shukla confirmed the series against Pakistan on the anniversary of 26/11- the 2008 deadly Mumbai terrorist attack- people on twitter brutally criticised the decision.
People blamed BJP lead Indian government while many said invite other teams too in India to play a December series they will attend the series to brim the coffer of BCCI.
Under pressure, the government forced to say Ministry of External Affairs yet to take any decision about the series.
Rajeev Shukla on behalf of BCCI said, “If our Government permits, only then we’ll play. We’ll go with whatever they say.”
The PCB and BCCI agreed to play the series after months-long negotiations. BCCI initially refused to play against Pakistan as they follow the Indian government’s stringent Pakistan policy- snub all ties with Pakistan until they stop terrorism as a ghost weapon against India from their country.
Since the deadly terrorist attack in 2008 Indian government asked Pakistan to hand over Hafeez Saeed, who is the mastermind of the Mumbai terrorist attack. Officially 166 people were killed. But, the Pakistan government maintained India failed to give them reliable evidence. Along with this, the cross-border ceasefire violation, terrorist infiltration in Kashmir border also made the relationship cold between two countries. India refused to bring the talk on the table. But, last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen in a chat with his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif Paris climate summit.
Their chat also sparked the speculation about the December series as it is believed like Sharif, Modi also has to take the final decision about the series.
India last played a full bilateral series in 2007 at home. A short series was played in 2012. But, according to the MoU, India is bound to play six bilateral series against Pakistan between 2015 and 2022.
India agreed to play the series in Sri Lanka after saying “no” to UAE, which was the scheduled venue for the series.
Now, it will have to see whether series finally happen or not.