The big talking point in Indian cricket right now is the question of playing Pakistan at the upcoming one-day international World Cup. More than 400,000 applicants have reportedly applied for the 25,000 seater Old Trafford stadium in Manchester for what is the most anticipated fixture of the World Cup, not just this year.
But, following the terror attack in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, in which more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed, there are calls for India to boycott the fixture, at the very least, or the World Cup as a whole.
The Committee of Administrators-run BCCI decided against taking any stand on the World Cup clash against Pakistan but urged the ICC and other nations to sever ties with countries from where ‘terrorism emanates.’
“The 16th of June is very far away. We will take a call on that much later and in consultation with the government,” CoA chief Vinod Rai had said on Friday. “We must sever ties with nations from which such terrorism emanates. We will express our concern on an appropriate forum.”
The bilateral cricketing ties between the two countries have already been suspended since 2012 and the teams last played a full series in 2007. But the two teams have faced off in multi-nation events like the World Cup, World T20, Asia Cup and Champions Trophy.
Here’s what cricketers, present and former, have had to say about the fixture so far:
Virat Kohli, India captain:
“Our stand is simple. We stick by what the nation wants to do and what the BCCI decides to do and that is basically our opinio. Whatever the government and the board decide, we will eventually go by that and will respect that. So that is our stand on this particular issue. Our sincere condolences to the families of the soldiers who lost their lives. The Indian team is really shocked and sad about what happened.”
Ravi Shastri, former player and India chief coach
“It’s entirely left to the BCCI and the government. They know exactly what is happening and they will take a call. We will go by what they decide. If the government says it’s that sensitive you do not need to play the World Cup, I will go by my government.”— Source: Mirror Now
Sachin Tendulkar, highest run-scorer in World Cup history
“India has always come up trumps against Pakistan in the World Cup. It’s time to beat them once again. I would personally hate to give them two points and help them in the tournament. Having said that, for me India always comes first, so whatever my country decides, I will back that decision with all my heart.”
Kapil Dev, India’s World Cup winning captain
“To play or not to play is something which does not have to be decided by people like us. It has to be decided by the government. It’s better if we don’t give an opinion and leave it to the government and concerned people. Whatever they decide will be in the interest of the nation. We’ll do what they want,”— Source: ANI
Sunil Gavaskar, former India captain
“Who wins if India decide against playing Pakistan in the World Cup? And I am not even talking about the semis and the finals. Who wins? Pakistan win because they get two points. India have so far beaten Pakistan every time in a World Cup, so we are actually conceding two points when, by beating Pakistan, we could make sure that they don’t advance in the competition. (But) I am with the country, whatever the government decides, I am with it totally. If the country wants we shouldn’t play Pakistan, I am with them.
“Where does it hurt Pakistan? It hurts them when they don’t play a bilateral series against India. In a multi-team event, India will lose by not playing them. The entire matter needs to be looked at with a little more depth, I can understand emotions are running high. But what happens when you don’t play them? I know India are strong enough side to qualify even after conceding those two points but why not beat them and make sure they don’t qualify.”— Source: India Today
Sourav Ganguly, former India captain (led India in 2003 World Cup)
“This is a 10-team World Cup and each team plays matches against every other team. I feel if India doesn’t play a match in the World Cup, it won’t be an issue. I feel it will be really difficult for ICC [International Cricket Council] to go on with a World Cup without India. But, you also have to see if India has the power to stop ICC from doing such a thing. But, personally I feel a strong message should be sent.
“And, whatever reactions came from the people of India...was right. There is no chance of a bilateral series with Pakistan after this incident. I agree that after this attack, India should not only stop playing cricket, hockey or football with Pakistan but cut all ties with them.”— Source: India TV
Harbhajan Singh, former India spinner
“India are powerful enough to win the World Cup without having to play Pakistan. This is a difficult time. The attack that has happened, it was unbelievable and it’s very wrong. Strict action will surely be taken by the government. When it comes to cricket, I don’t think we should have any relations with them otherwise they will keep treating us like this.
“I don’t think India should play the World Cup match against Pakistan. Country comes first. Cricket, hockey or [other] sports, it should be kept aside because this is a huge thing and repeatedly our soldiers are killed.
“We should not keep any kind of ties with Pakistan: We are powerful enough to feed the world on our own. Cricket or sport for that matter is not as important. We stand with every member of the defence force. Their sacrifices should no go to waste.”— Source: Aaj Tak
Yuzvendra Chahal, current India cricketer
“I think it is high time we need to take firm action. I am not saying all people there (Pakistan) are at fault but those who are responsible should be acted against.”— Source: ANI
Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan captain for the 2019 World Cup
“The India and Pakistan match should be played as per schedule as there are millions of people who want to watch this game. I just don’t think cricket should be targeted for political gains. It is disappointing to see cricket being targeted after the Pulwama incident. I don’t recall Pakistan ever mixing sports with politics. Sports should just be taken as sports.”— Source: CricketPakistan
Javed Miandad, former Pakistan captain
“I felt bad after hearing about our pictures being removed from their (Indian) stadiums. Now this talk of boycotting the World Cup. I think India need to understand they can face consequences of such an action. I don’t understand the mindset. Do they really think they (India) can get away without playing the World Cup match?”— Source: Dawn