Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wants cricket between Pakistan and India despite prevailing tensions between the two neighbours, a close aide of the prime minister has said.
Sharif is an ardent fan of cricket. Vetoing a series between the two countries can never be a desired decision for him, The Nation quoted the aide as saying on Tuesday.
“The decision to bind Pakistan Cricket Board to seek permission for series with India is because there are no positive signals from India. Shiv Sena is promoting hatred and Sharif is concerned about the players’ safety,” said the prime ministerial aide.
He said Sharif was a strong advocate of Pakistan-India cricket like millions of fans on both sides of the border.
Sharif was hoping for improved ties with India where cricket could be taken as a sport, not war, he said.
“Yes, there are political tensions but we never wanted this. Sport should be taken as a sport. We hope we will be able to solve this issue,” he added.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, however, was strongly against playing with India.
Khan on Tuesday said he would oppose Pakistan’s visit to India because New Delhi backed Shiv Sena’s extremism.
Pakistan and India have not played a full series since the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai which India said were carried out by militants based across the border.
Given the sensitive relationship between the two countries, a fresh government Non-Objection Certificate will be required before each series.
The chairman of PCB’s executive committee Najam Sethi said he would advise the board not to accept any offer from the BCCI to play the series in India.
“In my opinion we should not go to India as it is our home series and the BCCI should honour the MoU they signed with us which states Pakistan will host this series,” he said.
Sethi was chairman of the board when the PCB and BCCI signed the MoU to play six series between 2015 and 2023 with Pakistan hosting the first series in December this year in the United Arab Emirates.
Defence analyst Lt. General Talat Masood (retired) said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi should realise that backing extremist groups cannot work.
“Modi should realise his current policies need reforms and he should revise them as early as possible. Modi has made wrong choice by not adopting secularism-based policies.”
The analysts believe the two nations must engage in sports and improve ties to the benefit of the millions of people in the region.
They argued that India must ensure a conducive environment for Pakistanis to visit the neighbouring country.
Cricket is more a religion, less a sport in India. People are obsessed with the sport and magnitude of love cannot be defined in words.
In the United States, Baseball, Basketball and Soccer are obviously more popular. However, Cricket has a strong presence due to the passion and love of Indians for the game. The Indian community in USA avidly plays and promotes cricket and, in the process comes closer to each other.
The passion for the game is unreal in USA too. Working men enjoy the sport in their free time. They even book grounds (baseball/soccer grounds) to practice and conduct tournament matches. The players are from all backgrounds – students, businessmen, lawyers, IT professionals to doctors. They all take out time out of their busy schedules and come together to rejoice the gentleman’s game in the windy city.
Tournaments in Chicago
As cricket has a strong presence in Chicago, many friendly yet competitive tournaments are conducted by cricket fanatics to keep the game alive.
Chicagotwenty20 is the oldest cricket tournament that was conducted in Chicago. It’s first season took place in 2009 and the tenth season was played in 2018. The league is played in 20 overs format. 56 teams participate from Chicago and are divided into groups 4 with 14 teams in each group. Each team has a squad of 16 players with 11 playing and rest 5 as extras. Each team has a home ground. 7 matches are played at home ground and the rest at the opponent’s ground. The top eight teams from each group are qualified for the quarter finals. The tournament is almost four months long. The best player of the winning team is awarded the man of the match in every match. Best Batsman, Best bowler, MVP ( most valuable player) awards are given at the end of the season.
The 2018 season was won by team Yorkers. The Best Batsman, Highest score and the MVP award was given to Mr Pavan Shetty of team Yorkers, who scored 418 runs. The best bowler award was given to Sivakumar for taking 27 wickets.
WLCA Super 8 tournament
WLCA (West Loop Cricket Association, Chicago) was formed by four IT professionals in 2016 with the sole objective of promoting the game of cricket in Chicago City area. Based out of vibrant and affluent Chicago West Loop, WLCA is an assemblage of 300+ cricket players. These cricket enthusiasts come from different walks of life being corporate professionals, UIC/IIT students and local businessmen. There are hundreds of followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
WLCA mainly involve in:
Organize annual cricket tournament
Coordinate weekly cricket games in different Chicago City park locations
Coordinating friendly games with other known Chicago Suburban teams
WLCA team represented Chicago City in other Chicagoland tournaments including Chicago T20 League and Soha Cup
Maintaining and making available Cricket Equipment Kit free of cost to playing group
The WLCA hosts Super 8 Cricket tournament which started in 2017 by the West Loop cricket association (WLCA). It is played under the format of 8 overs and 8 players in each team. This concept of tournament was the first to be launched by WLCA in Chicago. This is the shortest time-consuming format (2 days) and the played at the heart of Chicago Downtown. The first season was extremely successful (12 teams) and participating teams called out as the best organized cricket tournament amongst many happening in Chicago.
Season 2 played in 2018 organized by WLCA had 16 teams divided into four groups with four teams in each group. The semi-finals and final are played with 10 overs. There is a man of the match, best bowler, best fielder award for every match
Here is the fixture and schedule of Season 2:
There are 16 teams participating in this short format cricket tournament.
16 team is divided into 4 groups.
Winter Wolves (A1)
Chicago Wild Kittens(B1)
Dark Knights (A2)
Chicago Super Kings(D2)
River City (D3)
International Khiladies (A4)
Each team in the group will play only two matches with the other two teams.
From each group top two teams will be qualified for the quarterfinals, then semis and finals.
Chicago Centaurs were the Champions and Super 9s were the runners up.
The tournament has become a big deal in no time. It was sponsored by big names like USBank (thanks to Susan Brown), Lodha Group (this group was also the associated sponsor of Ind vs, Eng Test Series in 2018) and Metra Spice Mart (Only Indian Grocery Store in Chicago Downtown). The tournament has gained momentum in no time and is likely to do so in the years to come.
Keeping the game alive overseas
Cricket has become a huge deal in Chicago. Around 900 people play the game in the windy city. Tournaments like above help in maintaining healthy competition and something to be excited for.
People sacrifice other chores just to enjoy this beautiful game and to keep it alive in countries outside India where cricket is not a major sport.
“My favourite sport and always loved to watch and play the game anywhere in the world anytime. Always loved to organize these kinds of tournament from childhood so continuing the same thing outside the country”, Says Harshavardhna Hedge, Organizer, WLCA super 8 tournament.
“Well I love the sport and love my country. We get to relive our childhood and impart love for the game to the next generation. The community comes together and enjoy, and we also return to the society through charity”, Says Hari Mohan, Organizer, WLCA super 8 tournament.