Amid the ongoing saga between the Indian and Pakistan cricket boards over Team India’s participation in next year’s Asia Cup, the talismanic Virat Kohli has received a stunning request from fans in the neighboring country.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is yet to confirm the Rohit Sharma-led side’s participation in the 2023 Asia Cup which will be held in Pakistan. Earlier, BCCI secretary Jay Shah sparked a massive controversy by declaring that India won’t travel to Pakistan and that the Asia Cup will be organized at a neutral venue.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) immediately hit back at the BCCI, threatening a tit-for-tat response as its chief Ramiz Raja said that if India didn’t take part in the Asia Cup, Babar Azam and company won’t feature in the ICC ODI World Cup which is scheduled to take place in India in October-November next year.
Since then relations between the two boards have been on the boil and even retired cricketers from the two nations have been engaged in an ugly war of words.
PCB president Ramiz Raja recently fired a fresh salvo at the Indian cricket board, insisting that cricket between the two nations will improve ties but the BCCI was adamant about not sending the Men in Blue to Pakistan.
“I’m all for India-Pakistan contests, I’ve said this on record,” Ramiz Raja told Sky Sports. “I absolutely love the fans, and they like us as well – Pakistan has become a brand in international cricket, the players have got a fan following in India, and I know that the second most watched team in India after India is Pakistan, so they take interest in our development.
“We want to go and play, but the fact is it has to be on equal terms. You can’t be subservient to a certain cricket board. We’ve survived without India now for a good number of years. Pakistan have looked at the scales of economy in-house and somehow have survived extremely well,” he added.
Ramiz Raja even surprised many with his recent comments, suggesting that Pakistan should pull out of the event before India. This way, the PCB will send a strong message to the BCCI.
“It’s not as if we don’t have hosting rights and we’re pleading to host it. We won the rights fair and square. If India doesn’t come, they won’t come. If the Asia Cup gets taken away from Pakistan, maybe we’re the ones that pull out,” Ramiz Raja said earlier this month.
“We’ve shown we can host great teams,” Ramiz said. “I can understand issues relating to bilateral cricket, but the Asia Cup is a multi-nation tournament, almost as big as the World Cup for the Asian bloc. Why give it to us in the first place and then make all those statements about India not traveling to Pakistan? I accept that India won’t come because the government won’t allow them to come – fine. But to take the Asia Cup away from the host on that basis isn’t right,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, the authorities in India, including the Sports Ministry headed by Anurag Thakur have taken multiple digs at Pakistan for what they called “fake threats”, considering the PCB needs money to run cricket in their country and pulling out of an ICC event would be suicidal.
Even several former India cricketers have called their threat a bluff because the BCCI contributes heavily to the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), the organizers of the Asia Cup. Notably, Jay Shah is the current head of the ACC.
In this scenario, former India captain Virat Kohli, who has a large following of supporters in Pakistan, was urged by the fans from the neighboring nation to participate in the Asia Cup there.
The surprising request from the Pakistani fans came during the Green Army’s recent Test against England in Multan. “Hi King Kohli, come and play Asia Cup,” one of the banners raised during the game said, while the other read, “We will love u more than our King Babar.”
Virat Kohli fans in Pakistan – The craze is huge. pic.twitter.com/THW0veDL7L
— Johns. (@CricCrazyJohns) December 12, 2022
Virat Kohli is extremely popular in Pakistan and shares a great relationship with some of their players, including past and present cricketers.
The 34-year-old Delhi-born cricketer recently ended his long wait for an ODI hundred as he slammed his 44th ton in the 50-over format against Bangladesh on Saturday.
It was Virat Kohli’s first ODI hundred since August 2019, ending an over 1200-day drought for his 44th century, which took him past Australian great Ricky Ponting‘s landmark in international cricket.
While Ricky Ponting finished his illustrious career with 71 tons on the international stage, Virat Kohli now has 72. The Indian superstar now occupies the second spot in the all-time list with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar on top of the charts with 100 centuries.