This week was primarily dedicated to the fall of the ‘King of Good Times’ Vijay Mallya, with a slew of cases being filed against him for being a ‘wilful defaulter’ in loans owed to a number of banks, and then his sudden ‘takeoff’ to a foreign country. While details of this are still emerging, one thing that reached some finality was the fate of the India-Pakistan cricket match in the World T20 being hosted by India. And this blog will trace the developments regarding the same.
It is no secret that security is a major concern when it comes to entities from Pakistan visiting India, and this is not valid only for cricketers. Rather, it is applicable in equal measure to film stars, politicians, even writers. This is especially because of a section of people using protests against anything and anyone Pakistani, to condemn the perceived apathy of Pakistan towards terrorism and the continued infiltration of militants from across the border. And when you add to this the age-old India-Pakistan cricket rivalry, things are bound to heat up not just on the field but also off it.
Regarding the uncertainty over Pakistan playing in the World T20 in India, it all started when the Himachal Pradesh government expressed doubts over whether it would be safe for the Pakistan cricket team to play against India in Dharamshala, where the match had originally been scheduled.According to the state government, there was likelihood of protests by ex-servicemen’s families against Pakistan due to incidents along the border. A state government expressing such doubts only added to the concerns of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), which fearing for its players’ safety, asked for a guarantee from the Indian government that their players would be safe.
While no such guarantee was forthcoming at the government level in India, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) ensured that the match was safe to be played at Dharamshala. However, when an official delegation came to evaluate the security arrangements at Dharamshala, they were unsatisfied. They even travelled to Delhi and tried arranging a meeting with the home ministry, but to no avail. In view of this, the Pakistan government asked the team not to depart for India until some assurances were given by the government. Thankfully, the matter was resolved after the match was shifted to Kolkata and the Indian government sorted the issue with its Pakistani counterpart.
The Pakistani men’s cricket team has finally arrived in Kolkata, amid tight security as well as loud cheers from fans. The women’s team also landed in Chennai, albeit amidst a quiet welcome. This is good news for the World T20 but it seems like momentary relief, for the back-and-forth between the two cricket boards has been going on for a while and this latest rigmarole has only heightened the tension. The days to come will decide how far Indo-Pak cricket ties will go, if they manage to survive political turmoil…