Several former players and ex-officials of the BCCI have demanded boycott of the match against Pakistan at the upcoming ODI World Cup and that they should be isolated from the international cricket community following the Pulwama terror attack.
Boycotting a World Cup match means giving away points to opponents. India will start their campaign at the World Cup against defending champions and title favourites Australia before facing New Zealand in the second match.
The first round of the showpiece event of One-Day International (ODI) cricket will feature a round-robin format with all the 10 competing teams playing each other.
In such a scenario, a walkover in their third game, against Pakistan on June 16, could put the Indian team under added pressure, specially if they lose one or more of their first two matches.
In any case, beating Pakistan by a sizeable margin at the biggest stage of the 50-over cricket will be a bigger revenge than giving away points for free.
Such a scenario is not entirely unlikely, considering that Pakistan have never defeated India at the World Cup.
Pakistan players come under added pressure when facing India. Their stress levels are expected to be even higher this time considering that they will be playing against India only a couple of months after a conflict in which fighter jets from either side crossed the LoC, first time since the 1971 war.
The second scenario — persuading ICC members to sever cricketing ties with Pakistan and ban them from the World Cup — is a better option. The BCCI will have to use all its clout with the ICC and other national cricket boards to achieve the objective.
“World Cup, Olympics are decided years ahead. We don’t play bilateral series with Pakistan. The best thing to do is to throw Pakistan out of the World Cup. Every country is worried about growth of terrorism in Pakistan. It’s a problem for everyone. We should exert pressure on the ICC to throw Pakistan out of the World Cup,” former cricketer Chetan Chauhan told a news channel earlier this month.
“If Pakistan do not play the World Cup, it won’t make any difference. If India do not play, the ICC will suffer monetary losses. India bring 65-70 per cent of the sponsorship revenue,” he said.
However, implementing this strategy will not be easy.
When contacted by IANS, BCCI acting president C.K. Khanna and Committee of Administrators (CoA) member Diana Eduljee refused to comment on the issue.
But if this target is achieved, it will hurt Pakistan cricket more than any boycott of World Cup matches ever will. With the BCCI staying away from bilateral series and the Pakistan team having to play all its home matches in Dubai, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is in dire financial condition.