The Pulwama attack that left 45 Indian soldiers killed on 14 February has prompted supporters of the BJP government at the Centre in the Indian media to call for the boycott of Pakistan in this year’s World Cup cricket. India and Pakistan are set to lock horns in the World Cup, scheduled to be held in England and Wales this year in June. Leading the demand to boycott Pakistan is Arnab Goswami of Republic TV, a channel he founded with the help of BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar in 2017.
Goswami has earned plenty of condemnation for insulting the legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who said on Friday that not playing against Pakistan in the World Cup was a bad idea since it will mean gifting two precious points to the traditional rival.
But Sachin isn’t the only cricketing great, who have rubbished the idea of boycotting Pakistan in the prestigious World Cup competition. Earlier, another legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar too had made similar observations.
Here’s what some of the biggest names in the Indian cricket have said on the issue;
Sachin Tendulkar on Twitter: India has always come up trumps against Pakistan in the World Cup. Time to beat them once again. Would personally hate to give them two points and help them in the tournament. Having said that, for me India always comes first, so whatever my country decides, I will back that decision with all my heart.
The head coach of the Indian cricket team, Ravi Shastri, according to ESPNCricinfo: It’s entirely left to the BCCI and the government. They know exactly what is happening and they will take a call. We will go by what they decide. If the government says it’s that sensitive you do not need to play the World Cup, I will go by my government.
Sunil Gavaskar: Who wins in that case if India decide not to play against Pakistan in the World Cup? And I am not even looking ahead to semifinals and finals. Who wins? Pakistan wins. They get two points. India has every time so far beaten them in the World Cup, so we are actually conceding two points when we could, by beating Pakistan (in the group stage), actually make sure that they don’t qualify for the knockout. I know emotions are running high, but that needs to be looked at with a little more depth.
Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly to India TV: This is a 10-team World Cup and every team plays every team and I feel if India doesn’t play a match in the World Cup, it won’t be an issue. ICC can’t go on with a World Cup without India and I feel it will be really difficult for the ICC to go on with a World Cup without India. But, you also have to see if India have the power to stop the ICC from doing such a thing.
Former India bowler Harbhajan Singh to India Today: “India should not play Pakistan in the World Cup. India are powerful enough to win the World Cup without having to play Pakistan. One mistake will not correct the other one. Since we played in 1999 does not mean we should go ahead and do it again. We need to stand with our government and our soldiers.”
Indian bowler Yuzvendra Chahal to news agency ANI: It’s not in our hands. If BCCI says, we will play, if they say no then we won’t. I think it is high time we need to take firm action. I am not saying all people there (Pakistan) are at fault but those who are responsible should be acted against.