There has been much speculation over the past couple of months regarding Pakistan’s participation in the upcoming cricket World Cup in India. Now, the team’s participation is all but certain, pending a security clearance from the International Cricket Council (ICC). This has been a long drawn-out saga with plenty of hurdles, and many legit grievances of the PCB are still unaddressed, but hopefully, now the players and fans will be able to set all of that aside and focus on the game.
Reports reveal that this decision was taken during the meeting of the committee headed by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and attended by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf as well as senior security officials and others. Sources claim that the committee will be recommending the PCB to write a letter to the ICC, seeking concrete assurances for the cricket team’s security in view of the rising incidents of violence and Islamophobia in the neighbouring country. This is essential considering the ongoing violence in Manipur, and the many incidents of violence against Muslims in other parts of the country. In this regard, a security delegation is likely to visit India in the third week of August to review security arrangements for the venues which will host the Pakistan team.
The committee set up to take this decision was evaluating multiple options, including proposing a hybrid model for the World Cup. But the reality is that while such proposals would seem fair given the sacrifices and compromises the PCB has had to make over the past decade, they would be rejected outrightly given the tilted playing field and power politics at play. Regardless of how the negotiations turned out, the players can now finally move on and focus on winning the trophy that has eluded them since 1992.
Pakistan will start their campaign against the Netherlands on October 6 in Hyderabad, and will play a high-octane clash against India on October 14 in Ahmedabad. The team with its new bold and modern approach is experiencing a return to form in the longest format of the game after beating Sri Lanka comprehensively in the two test-match series. However, this approach should also bode well for the 50 over game, where Pakistan already has a deep and experienced squad well-suited to and familiar with the conditions in the sub-continent. The team has all the elements needed to succeed, and with key players returning from injury in recent times, all that matters now is the preparation and execution.