Newly elected Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani has attacked the Board of Cricket for Control in India (BCCI) for its stand on the bilateral series between the two countries, terming it as 'hypocrisy'.
India and Pakistan have not played a bilateral series or a match against each other since 2013. Though, during this period, the two teams have faced off 10 times in an ICC or global event, most recently in Asia Cup 2018.
Much of it is down to the political climate in the two countries. But according to Ehsan Mani, cricket can improve relations. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, the PCB chairman said,
"The main thing is that we play cricket against each other. When we play cricket, especially in our countries - when we go to India or when they come here - helps in increasing people-to-people contact. Indian fans come to Pakistan. Lakhs of fans have come to Pakistan from India and everyone goes back happy. There's no better way to improve the relations between countries than having sporting contacts, cultural contacts. For me, that is far more important than any amount of money that comes into the game. Indian public obviously love to see India and Pakistan playing, and so does the Pakistan public. Rest of the work is of the politicians and frankly, once India is in the lead-up to its elections next year, so I don't think there will be any softening in their attitude. But in the long term, the people want it and you can't go against the will of the people forever."
Terming the decision to not play a bilateral series, yet, play in a global event as 'hypocrisy', Mani added, "There is a lot of hypocrisy at the moment. India plays an ICC event against us but doesn't play a bilateral series. That is something that we need to address."
Relations between the two countries deteriorated significantly after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in which Pakistan-based terrorist Hafiz Saeed was found to be the man behind the devastation. Following that, Pakistan players were barred from featuring in the Indian Premier League.
Recently, the two teams met at the Asia Cup 2018, taking on each other twice. On both the occasions, India came out victorious in a comfortable fashion, thrashing their neighbors en-route to winning their seventh title.
Prior to that, India and Pakistan took on each other at the Champions Trophy 2017 on two occasions. In the group stage game, India trounced their arch-rivals. But when the two teams took on each other in the final, Pakistan turned the tables, and scripted a memorable win.