ICC hopes semifinal clash would bring India and Pakistan closer

India and Pakistan meet in a high-voltage World Cup semifinal at Mohali on Wednesday

Colombo: Mar 29, 2011

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat on Monday hoped the high-profile World Cup semi-final between arch-rivals Pakistan and India will build a bridge between the two nations.

Title favourites India take on Pakistan at Mohali on Wednesday — the first meeting between the two teams on Indian soil since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks carried out by Pakistan-based militants.

Tickets have been sold out in advance and security ramped up with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani due to watch the match as a guest of Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh.

Lorgat believes the match could build a bridge between the two nations who have not played a bilteral series since 2008 attacks. “Cricket is there to build bridges,” said Lorgat. “If it does than it would be a just reward for the beautiful game of cricket.”

Lorgat said India playing in Pakistan would be massive, irrespective of whether it overshadows the World Cup. “Certain countries, when they play, it’s romanticism, it’s massive and wherever they play it’s big, so we like to see cricket providing that platform to India and Pakistan. As someone said ‘cricket diplomacy is better than no diplomacy’.”

Cricket diplomacy was first used by former Pakistan President General Zia-ul Haq who toured India mid-way through a Test series in 1987.

General Pervez Musharraf also used cricket diplomacy when he toured India to watch a match in 2005, holding talks on the sidelines of the match.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since their independence from the British rule in 1947. They have endured strained relations since the Mumbai attacks, although there have been efforts to put relations back on track with talks at secretary level.