Don’t see India, Pakistan playing together but let’s not lose hope: PCB’s Wasim Khan
India and Pakistan played the final of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017. (AFP Image)

It has been six years since India and Pakistan played a bilateral cricket tournament and if newly-appointed managing director of the Pakistan Cricket Board Wasim Khan is to be believed, the scenario is likely to remain unchanged in near future. Pakistan toured India in late 2012 for a three ODI series which they won 2-1, but ever since the two nations have only faced each other in ICC events.

An agreement was formed between the PCB and the BCCI to play a total of seven bilateral series from 2014 to 2023, but the Indian board had to pull out of it following political unrest between the two countries and tension lurking near the border.

Wasim, formerly a chief executive at the Leicestershire County Cricket Club, feels that despite there being almost no possibility of an India-Pakistan series anytime soon, it was important for the PCB to device strategies that prompt India to show eagerness to play Pakistan and not the other way around.

“It’s a massive challenge,” he said. “And I don’t think we’re going to see any solutions anytime soon. I think elections are going on in India, so nothing is going to happen in the near future. But, we are trying and [PCB chairman] Ehsan [Mani] is trying hard to get them to the table and get things moving.

“We keep on asking them to play us but let’s create a situation where they ask us to play. I think we need to do that. It’s sad that we are not playing against them but life continues. We need to move forward and carry on. We can’t wait forever to play India. Our focus is to develop Pakistan cricket and get our team and players a lot of success at the international level.”

Echoing Wasim’s thoughts, PCB chairman Mani too was not optimistic about the possibility of a series anytime soon, although he did admit to be sharing cordial relation with BCCI officials despite their difference in the past.

“Until it’s not done (elections in India) there is no point in engaging them at this stage because we have to start over with new people in the BCCI,” Mani said. “But our relations with the Indian board are very good and we have mutual respect but we won’t be imploring them to play us. If we can take Pakistan cricket to a level where we are among the top three teams in the world, they will come on their own to play with us.

“I get a lot of messages from Indian journalists and public about their wish to play against Pakistan. Unfortunately, politics sneaks in which I don’t believe sports should ever be mixed up with. But it happens in our environment, especially in India it happens a lot.”

Conducting a series between the two nations remains an after-thought for Wasim, whose main aim is to bring a sense of stability and develop Pakistan cricket’s domestic structure, whose unstructured nature has been deemed a cause behind their inconsistent run.

“We need to get the consistency and sustainability so we are looking at our internal affairs,” Wasim said. “Everything will be done but for now let’s get our domestic cricket right and make our grassroots stronger than ever and make our international team more sustainable in the near future so that they are successful at all levels.”