According to the sources in Ministry of External Affairs, it is very unlikely that the proposed series will get a go-ahead from the government as the "atmosphere is not conducive" to such series. Though no one is speaking clearly about the India-Pakistan series, sources said that keeping the BCCI request on hold is a clear signal that the government doesn’t want the Indian cricket team to play against Pakistan. However, the formal announcement in this regard is yet to be made.
There seems to be a difference of opinion between the leaders of the ruling NDA. Anurag Thakur, who is a BJP MP and BCCI secretary, spoke in favour of resumption of the cricketing ties just yesterday (Thursday).
Thakur pointed out that India’s stand on not playing Pakistan in a bilateral series hardly reflected reality when both countries have been routinely playing each other in ICC events.
“We play Pakistan in the World Cup. We played them in the 2015 World Cup, we’ll play them next year in the Asia Cup. Then we’ll again play them in the month of March in World T20. So when you play them in a multinational tournament in world events, then what stops you from playing them in a bilateral series. So that’s the question we have to answer,” Thakur was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Thakur, however, blamed the social media for making the issue of India-Pakistan cricketing relations even more tricky. “I think when it comes to Pakistan, it’s not that easy to take calls. And five years back, there was no role of social media. Today you see a lot of reaction from social media, but you still can’t say it’s the sense of the entire country. At times you can’t go only by social media; you have to look at the interests of the nation,” he said.
Even sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal supported the BCCI on the issue. "Whatever initiative the BCCI is taking, it needs to be supported by us. The BCCI has always been taking the initiatives for the promotion of games and also for the promotion of relationship," Sonowal told ANI.
Senior BCCI functionary and IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, who is a Congress MP in Rajya Sabha, had appealed to keep sports and politics separate.
"Sports should not be dragged into political and diplomatic controversies. We cannot decide on the series with Pakistan without the consent of the Government. That is why we have written to the Government and awaiting its response. The moment we get the response, we will let everyone know," said Shukla.
The BCCI had sought the government’s permission for a short cricket series (ODI and T20) against Pakistan in Sri Lanka to be played sometime after December 15 — that is a week after the ongoing series against South Africa and before Australia series in January.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has already given approved the series.
The series is a part of an MoU signed between the two boards that calls for six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023. After several rounds of discussion and considering at least four venue possibilities, Sri Lanka had emerged the unanimous choice for the limited overs series. There are also talks of a Test series in England sometime next year.