There may have been clashes between India and Pakistan over the last few days, but "Cricket Diplomacy" looks to be alive and well. However, the two teams need to keep moving forward.
Whether it’s a big step or a small one, or even no step at all, only time will tell. Nevertheless the three games played on the cricket pitch between the two South Asian giants were played in a sportsmanlike spirit.
The Pakistani cricket team returned home from India to a heroes’ welcome at Lahore airport after beating India 2-1 in a cricket series in India. India came back to win the last game to deny the visitors what would have been a painful clean sweep.
The event was the first meeting between the two rivals on one of their home grounds since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
It was also only the third ever series victory by Pakistan on their rivals’ home soil, and has understandably been well-received by fans in the country.
“All the players deserve credit,” said Captain Misbah-ul-Haq at the airport. “It wasn’t easy to beat India at their home grounds especially after their recent performances against us before this series.”
The important thing is that discussions are held regarding India making the trip to return the favor. The team has not played in Pakistan since 2006.
Pakistan newspaper the Express Tribune, quoted Zaka Ashraf, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board that an invitation had been extended to the Indians.
“No decisive talks have been made yet,” Ashraf said. “The discussions are underway and hopefully India will come to Pakistan.
“We have proposed to hold our home series in India. This was discussed in my meetings with them, details of which I cannot reveal right now.”
An unnamed official, however, said that a return tour was not going to happen.
“They are not willing to tour Pakistan due to security concerns,” a Pakistan official told the publication and then dismissed the possibility of more matches at a neutral venue. “They don’t have a policy of playing series at neutral venues and they are unwilling to change it.”
On the pitch, there has to be some changes to the team. For India, the reverse to Pakistan comes on the back of losing a test series to England earlier in December. All is not well on the pitch.
The inquest has started. Former batting legend Sunil Gavaskar has given his opinion.
“If you look at the events that took place immediately after the 2011 World Cup, you will know the guys who actually took their places for granted, those who did not make themselves available and preferred to play in the IPL and then go for surgeries,” Gavaskar said.
“I think those are the guys who instead of looking at India were looking at contributing for their IPL franchises. If at all you need to take a rest, you need to take a rest from club matches,” he told NDTV.
There are bigger issues at stake. For the sake of relations in the region, cricket diplomacy should be given as much of a chance to succeed as possible.