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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 03/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The news of a cricket match between India and Pakistan always causes a stir among sports aficionados in both nations. But when such a match is scheduled on Indian or Pakistani territory, it just ups the ante and creates a raging

buzz amid millions of people across South Asia. But during the last five years, the Indian and Pakistani teams have not played cricket across the border, much to the disappointment of cricket fans in the neighbouring countries.

The Mumbai attacks in 2008, in which 175 people died, soured relations between the two countries and even ended up affecting their favourite sport. While India and Pakistan have played against each other several times on foreign territory (the latest being the ICC World T-20 in Colombo) neither India nor Pakistan has had the pleasure of seeing their top adversary compete on their home ground in the last five years.

The last India-Pakistan series in either country was in 2007-2008 when Pakistan toured India.

However, India's home ministry has recently cleared the way for Pakistan to play its first cricket series in India for five years. It has given permission for Pakistan to come to India a short limited overs tour in December and January. The forthcoming series in India will feature three ODIs and two Twenty20s.

This is actually great news as far as normalisation of relations between the two countries is concerning. In the new millennium, relaxation of visa restrictions actually led to many Indians and Pakistanis crossing borders to attend the exciting India-Pakistan matches. This was a point of genuine interaction between their populations and had a positive impact on the nascent peace initiative. However, the devastating Mumbai attacks stalled these heartening developments and in fact again re-sparked Indo-Pak tensions.

But after the clearance given to the Pakistani cricket team by the Indian Home Ministry, countless South Asian cricket lovers are jumping for joy. After all, no one can quite overemphasise the high adrenaline rush in a crowd that has the pleasure of watching cricket's top rivals compete in either India or Pakistan!

Moreover, at a time when several political issues continue to afflict Indo-Pak relations, the go-sign by the home ministry will do wonders for creating goodwill between the traditional foes.


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