In the wake of the Pulwama terror attacks against Indian armed forces where 40 CRPF personnel were martyred, there have been widespread demand for boycotting the World Cup match against Pakistan at the Old Trafford (June 16). But the Indian cricket board has not yet taken a final decision and decided to wait for the government's direction.
There has been strongly expressed demand for India to boycott Pakistan in the world meets not just cricket, with common public and social media reasoning that a sport's event cannot be bigger than the spirit of the Nation. The call to boycott the match between India and Pakistan gained importance since they have come from some prominent names in Indian cricketers. Harbhajan had said that India should boycott their World Cup match against Pakistan to establish protest for the Pulwama attacks. Another cricket bowler Yuzvendra Chahal also called for a boycott of the game. He also said that the decision will be made by the cricket board and government. He noted that 'One or two players cannot decide but I think it is high time and we need to take strong action against the perpetrators of terrorism'.
But some iconic cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar have opposed the move to boycott the match. Sachin Tendulkar mentions that he would 'hate' to see India concede two points to Pakistan by not playing them in the upcoming World Cup as such a move would only help the arch-rivals in the mega-event. Tendulkar endorsed Sunil Gavaskar's view that India would be better off beating Pakistan in the World Cup than forfeiting the June 16 tie in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack that killed more than 40 CRPF personnel. 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'. Legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar said, 'Who wins if India decide against playing Pakistan in the World Cup? And I am not even talking about the semis and the finals. Who wins? Pakistan wins because they get two points. India has so far beaten Pakistan every time in a World Cup, so we are actually conceding two points when, by beating Pakistan, we could make sure that they don't advance in the competition. (But) I am with the country, whatever the government decides, I am with it totally. If the country wants we shouldn't play Pakistan, I am with them'.
If India doesn't play Pakistan on June 16, it may be detrimental to India's chances at the quadrennial event. The ICC rules do not permit India to withdraw or boycott their game against Pakistan without (a) forfeiting points and (b) inviting sanctions. Not participating in global tournaments is not easy as every tournament has its rules and many participating nations. If India pulls out, they may have to face consequences, could be fined or banned.
For many several years, BCCI has maintained that it would follow the government guidelines on bilateral cricket with Pakistan. The ICC, on its part feels that the World Cup schedule getting affected by the current issue. One must note that the bilateral cricket between the two countries has not been held since 2012. But the two country's have played regularly at several global meets including Asia Cup games in the UAE last year. Since it's an international tournament organised by the ICC, BCCI will take a positive call after considering the government guidelines.