The Dubai Cricket Council has expressed its desire to host the bilateral series between the two arch-rivals, India and Pakistan, after having hosted the second half of the 14th season of the Indian Premier League (IPL 2021) and the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 in the UAE.
On Tuesday, November 23, Dubai Cricket Council Chairman Abdul Rahman Falaknaz has offered to host a bilateral series between India and Pakistan in the UAE, saying getting the two teams playing in the Gulf will be the best thing for the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB).
He further insisted that the UAE could be the perfect neutral venue for the high-voltage India-Pakistan clashes.
Recalling the old days when India and Pakistan used to play regularly in Sharjah, Falaknaz has termed those encounters as wars and expressed hope that cricket will help in bringing the two countries closer.
India and Pakistan have not played a bilateral series since 2012-13 due to the political tensions between the two neighbors, hence whenever the two cricketing giants clash, the intensity and interest of fans is at their highest.
Recently, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly said that resuming cricketing ties between India and Pakistan is not in the hands of the respective boards. While India may not agree to travel to Pakistan, it is possible that they could play at a neutral venue like the UAE if the bilateral series resumes.
Falaknaz told Khaleej Times: “The best thing would be to get India-Pakistan matches here. When Sharjah used to host India and Pakistan all those years ago, it was like a war. But it was a good war, it was a sporting war and it was fantastic.”
Recalling the time when late Bollywood actor Raj Kapoor attended an awards night in Dubai, Falaknaz said: “I remember [Bollywood actor] Raj Kapoor came once with his family. During the awards night, he took the mic and said, ‘How wonderful it is to have these India-Pakistan battles in Sharjah. Cricket brings people together, cricket has brought us together, and let us remain this way.'
So this is what we would like to do. If we can convince India to come and play here against Pakistan once a year or twice a year, it would be fantastic.”
This year, both the IPL 2021 and the T20 World Cup 2021 were originally scheduled to be held in India, but the COVID-19 situation forced the BCCI to shift the events to the UAE and Falaknaz felt they are lucky to be an alternative to India for the tournaments.
He further added, “I'm very proud because the UAE as a whole and especially Dubai in particular hosts anything to the best. And of course, T20 World Cup is also a sign of good organization. I would say we are lucky to be an alternative to India. I am looking forward to hosting more India-Pakistan matches in Dubai. I will try and convince my friends in the BCCI for the same. If they are ready to play Pakistan, we will be more than happy to offer our venue.”
After hosting the IPL 2020 and the second half of the IPL 2021 in the UAE, Falaknaz said that the DCC wants to host a few IPL matches every year in the Gulf.
He signed off by saying, “It all depends on BCCI to decide what they want to do. We are very friendly with them. They have seen our potential. I would invite them to come and hold their IPL, start here and finish in India or start in India and finish in Dubai. And they have been looked after so well that they are very happy with us. I think we can still help and do what we can for cricket, as much as our friends want us to do, we will do it.”
(With The Week Inputs)