Afridi wants cricket with India, any time, any place

Dubai :Pakistan’s Twenty20 skipper Shahid Afridi today fully endorsed any resumption of cricket ties with India, saying wherever and whenever a series is played the show must go on, irrespective of politics.

Asked about the Pakistan players’ reaction to a possible series between the arch-rivals in Sri Lanka next month, Afridi replied: “I think cricket should go on between Pakistan and India because it creates good contacts. “Wherever or whenever, cricket should go on.”

Top Pakistan and Indian cricket officials met in Dubai on Sunday, agreeing to play a short limited over series after getting permission from their respective governments.

India had stalled bilateral cricket with their neighbours in the aftermath of 2008 terrorists’ attacks on Mumbai, which were blamed on militants based in Pakistan.

But both boards agreed to play six series between 2015-2023 under an agreement signed last year, the first of which was scheduled for December-January.

But the series, comprising of two Tests, five one-day and two Twenty20, ran into trouble over strained relations between the two countries since the beginning of this year.

Afridi, who toured India in 1997, 1999, 2005, 2007 and 2011, said people in both the countries want to watch the game.

“Cricket should go on, it develops good relations and public from both sides want to watch the game,” said Afridi. “It should be separate from politics, both teams should always be ready.” Afridi said Pakistanis will be happy if India tour their country.

“It will be a matter of great happiness if India comes to Pakistan in this difficult time, support Pakistan and play there,” said Afridi.

Pakistan have not staged international cricket, other than a short limited overs series against Zimbabwe this year, since terrorists attacks on a Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009. Pakistan have since been forced to play its home matches on neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates.

Afridi said Pakistan team will be ready to tour India for next year’s World Twenty20 if government and Pakistan Cricket Board allow.

“When the board gives us security, the government gives us security then we can go for the World Twenty20,” said Afridi of the event to be staged in March-April next year.

“We have gone to India under worse situations,” said Afridi of Pakistan’s 1999 tour when extremists threatened them and dug up a pitch in New Delhi.

“It depends on who takes that pressure but we never felt any pressure going there and playing in India because we get a lot of love and affection there and they want us to play.”