In a rare tournament, a first of its kind since 2007, top players from the Indian cricket team and Pakistan could be playing in the same team. This means the likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma could be sharing the dressing room with Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan as the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) is working towards the revival of the Afro-Asian Cup for the 2023 calendar.
Until 2012, India and Pakistan had played bilateral tournaments, with the former hosting the last bilateral tournament. Owing to rise in political tension between the two countries, the teams have stopped playing against each other in bilateral series, although they have played against each other in multi-nation events like the ICC tournaments – ODI World Cup, Champions Trophy and T20 World Cup – and Asia Cup. The last time the two faced each other was in 2021 T20 World Cup, in a group-stage tie on October 24 in Dubai where Pakistan had defeated India by a historic margin of 10 wickets.
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World cricket witnessed the Afro-Asia Cup only twice in its history – in 2005 and 2007. The first was a three-match ODI series while the second included a one-off T20 as well. ACC is now working towards the revival of the tournament which, if confirmed, will be played in 2023 and will have players from India and Pakistan playing for the Asian XI, along with those from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
“We haven’t got confirmation from the boards yet. We are still working on the white paper and it will be submitted to both boards,” ACC head of commercial and events Prabhakaran Thanraj told Forbes. “But our plan is for the best players from India and Pakistan to be playing in the Asian XI. Once plans are finalized we will go into the market for sponsorship and a broadcaster.”
“It will be a massive event. Really, really big,” he emphasised.
While the first event had ended in a draw, Asia XI won all the four games to script a whitewash.
“I would love to see the opportunity to build the bridge and allow the players to play together. I’m sure the players want it to happen and to keep the politics away from it. It would be a beautiful thing to see players from Pakistan and India playing on the same team,” said Damodar who is on the influential Chief Executives’ Committee.