Politics has no role in cricket, India-Pak series in future: Ehsan Mani

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DUBAI: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani has shown optimism for the India-Pakistan bilateral series in the near future. The arch-rivals have not played a bilateral series in any format since 2012-13 due to continues political tensions. The tensions increased further in the recent days after cancellation of talks between foreign ministers of both countries on the sidelines of the United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) conference in New York, which ignited a strong response from Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who on his official Twitter account, lambasted the Indian counterparts for showing ‘lack of vision’. Mani, who recently became the head of PCB following former chairman Najam Sethi’s resignation, expressed his views that politics should not influence cricket in Dubai.

“Politics has no role to play in cricket,” said Mani. “If politics enters, then cricket will be used as a tool. I strongly believe politics and politicians shouldn’t influence cricket. As far as Imran Khan’s tweet is concerned, India had also given a statement, it was a reaction to that. His statement shouldn’t be looked at in isolation. When politicians talk, we shouldn’t get it into it.” He added: “Cricket boards have to work towards playing cricket, they shouldn’t get into politics, that’s what we’re talking with our Indian counterparts. There’s some bridge building to do, hopefully we will be able to make some ground because the relations haven’t been great. We should focus on matters concerning the cricket boards. Even when the Kargil incident happened, we didn’t stop dialogues. We knew cricket was tough, but every effort was made to renew bilateral ties.”

Mani also revealed that he had constructive discussions with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s officials for potential bilateral series on the sidelines of ongoing Asia Cricket Council’s meeting on September 20. “I met the Indian board officials on the sidelines of the ACC meetings and we had a productive discussion,” said Mani. “The Test Championship is apparently in two cycles. For the 2019-21 cycle, they have already made their calendar. But I’m assured by the ICC that in the second cycle from 2021-2023, Pakistan and India are scheduled to play each other.” The PCB are involved in a legal battle for $70 million compensation against the BCCI for not honouring a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2014 at the time of the formation of Big Four, and Mani believes it will be tough to comment on what will be the outcome of the hearing which will take place on October 1. “There’s a process that has started is in its last stages,” said Mani. “All the processes have taken due course, the final statements are due from October 1-3 through the ICC arbitration panel. At this stage, it will be tough to comment. I’ve said this earlier, had I been involved when the dispute happened, every effort would have been made to sort it bilaterally. Unfortunately, we are where we are. We have to still progress, but my doors are always open.”