Amidst growing diplomatic tension between India and Pakistan, which has also worsened the bilateral cricket ties, the two neighbouring nations will lock horns with each other in the third edition of the tennis ball cricket World Cup in Sharjah on Monday.

The tournament, which will see 20 teams and feature some of the best tennis ball cricketers in action, will be played from March 8 to 13 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, like in the first two editions. It is the brainchild of the UAE-based company Petromann.

“This format is very popular in the Indian subcontinent. We have had many of cricketing legends from the subcontinent rising from playing this brand of cricket. So it was only appropriate that we offer them a rich tribute by staging this special India-Pakistan match,” IANS quoted Abdul Latif Khan chairman of Petromann.

“If we succeed then we can see more such matches between the two sides in the future. We have chosen two very exciting squads from the best available players in the format from the two countries,” Khan added.

The last time India and Pakistan had played in Sharjah was in 2013-14 in the Under-19 Asia Cup. In conventional cricket, the two teams had last played in Sharjah back in 2000.

Other than facing each other in the ICC tournaments, the arch-rivals had last played in a bilateral series back in 2012-13 when Pakistan visited India for a two-match T20I series and three ODIs. India had last toured Pakistan in 2006 under the captaincy of Rahul Dravid.

Recently, at the final of the Expo 2020 Dubai Cricket tournament, former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi and former India cricketer Yuvraj Singh had advocated for the return of India-Pakistan bilateral series. Afridi had even said that the Indo-Pak affair could be bigger than Ashes if turned into reality.

(With inputs from IANS)