“Cricket is the only thing that can unite India and Pakistan”

Former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood has batted for the resumption of India-Pakistan bilateral cricketing ties, stating it could play a role in reducing tension between the two nations.

Pakistan last visited India in 2012-13 for a limited-overs series while India last toured Pakistan in 2005-06.

Speaking to Sportskeeda’s Indranil Basu in an SK Live session on Facebook, Azhar Mahmood warmly looked back at the India-Pakistan rivalry. He narrated:

“Growing up, we saw the rivalry between the two nations. You can see the tension whenever an India-Pakistan game is happening. The whole country stands still whenever Pakistan face India. I was lucky to make my debut against India and Sachin Tendulkar was my first wicket. I can’t ask for anything more than that.”

Hoping India-Pakistan cricketing ties would resume soon, Azhar Mahmood added:

“Whenever we come to India or these guys come to Pakistan, we’ve got so much love for each other. I have got a lot of close Indian friends. Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, and Yuvraj are friends. Doesn’t matter where you come from. I want to see Pakistan play India more often apart from ICC tournaments. In 1997-98, when we toured India, there was a lot of tension between the countries. But, after that tour, the relations between the two countries improved. Cricket is the only thing that can unite India and Pakistan.”

Indian bowlers are a bit more experienced because of IPL: Azhar Mahmood

The 45-year-old former all-rounder praised the current Indian bowling attack but added that Pakistan too have a strong line-up that could play for the country for the next decade. Analyzing the bowling attack of the two teams, he added:

“India’s bowlers are a bit more experienced because of the IPL. India’s pitches are so good that one can even chase 220 in a T20 game. Your skill and confidence level improves because of that. Siraj and other fast bowlers did very well in Australia. Defeating Australia in Australia was exceptional. India’s bowling depth is evident from this. Siraj played IPL before going to Australia. He was used to the pressure of playing international cricket. Their plans against Australia were really good.”

“Looking at Pakistan’s bowlers, there is (Mohammad) Hasnain, who bowls at 145-plus. Hasan Ali picked up a 10-wicket haul on comeback. Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah are all very good bowlers. They have a bright future and could play for Pakistan for the next 10 years,” he added.

Azhar Mahmood played 21 Tests and 143 ODIs for Pakistan from 1996 to 2007.

Published 15 Feb 2021, 20:33 IST

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