Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf hailed India for warmly welcoming the Pakistani team in Hyderabad. Pakistani cricket team arrived in India for the first time in the last seven years to participate in the ICC World Cup 2023 and received a rousing welcome from Indian cricket fans.
Zaka Ashraf made the headlines for referring to India as an enemy nation while speaking to reporters in Lahore on Thursday. He is facing sharp criticism from the cricket fans for such remarks but he clarifies his comments in a statement released by the PCB on Friday night.
Pakistan and India are working on improving relations on the cricket field as the BCCI president Roger Binny visited Pakistan to attend the Asia Cup 2023 match earlier this month. But Zaka's latest comments took fans by surprise. Many accused him of showing different mentalities with contradicting comments. But after seeing the treatment Pakistan team is receiving in India, Ashraf revealed that both India and Pakistan are not enemies but traditional rivals.
"Ashraf reflected how historically whenever the Pakistan men’s cricket team has visited India, they have received a warm and cordial reception, just as Indian teams have been welcomed in Pakistan. This is because cricket is a sport that has always played a bridging role between the two nations, and cricketers from both countries have remained popular in and well-loved by fans in both India and Pakistan. Chairman MC also emphasised that cricket between Pakistan and India have always been the center of global attention which is why cricket between the two countries is considered more significant than the other contests in this sport," PCB statement said.
Ashraf is reportedly expected to attend Pakistan's game against hosts India at Ahemadabad's Narendra Modi Stadium on October 14. Pakistan will open their World Cup campaign in an easy game against Netherlands in Hyderabad on October 6.