If Lalchand Rajput, as Zimbabwe’s coach, is required to tour Pakistan with his team, what New Delhi tells him is that he shouldn’t, given that there’s this thing about inviting trouble. Or words to much the same effect. And we get to know of it only after the Africans fetch up in India’s neighbouring country minus their tutor, which stirs curiosity and fuels comments, though you get the hang of the complications in Indo-Pak relations and that, of course, is something to share with your coffee house chums.
Not that anyone harbours any illusions that everything has ever really been hunky-dory. The chums add their own bits to the narrative, leaving you wondering what things were like when Pakistan too was, well, India. An inalienable part of it, in fact. But that was a long while ago and, in the none too distant past, Pakistan’s shooting squad found themselves barred from a world championship that New Delhi hosted.
India copped it rather badly in consequence, of course, given that no governing body would want sport’s never-stopping wheels being stalled in any way, but if the Indian Olympic Association was obliged to turn stones and explore avenues galore to square themselves with global high-ups, official India betrayed no contrition. Truth to tell, Pakistan seldom fails to get India’s ~ and a lot of Indians’ ~ dander up.
If we had a patriotism test at any level, hatred for Pakistan would be one of its major areas of scrutiny, certainly when exaggeratedly jingoistic regimes call the shots. Which is why Pakistan has begun its administrative spadework for October 2021’s Twenty20 World Cup, to be hosted by India, as early as October 2020.
“We run up against all sorts of problems trying to go to India, you see,” it has told the International Cricket Council, adding, for good measure, that the ICC has to take up with India the little matter of visas for its tour contingent. Not that the selections are to be made overnight.
Remarkably matter-of-fact in his statement on the way things are, Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive officer Wasim Khan has let it be known that there won’t be any bilateral series in the foreseeable future. Not on your nelly. The Indian board, he says, has to secure the crucial go-ahead from the government in New Delhi, the tactfully glossed-over implication being that it won’t come through like water out of a tap unless it’s worked for strenuously and persistently, with bureaucracy finding support in official policy.
But the World Cup is a much bigger show and an India, required to let all teams come and put them up, being difficult about Pakistan can’t fail to be spoken ill of. And the longer it drags on, the worse will be the hostility. Pakistan has hit upon a crackerjack ploy.