Shoaib Akhtar Backs India On World Cup Clash By Saying ‘They Have The Right To Pull Out’

| February 22 , 2019 , 18:55 IST

Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar condemned the heinous attack in Pulwama and also stated that it is India’s right if they want to play against Pakistan or not at the multi-national tournament later this year on Thursday.

The calls for India to boycott their World Cup group stage match against Pakistan have intensified in the last few days. While Harbhajan Singh and Sourav Ganguly stated that India should opt against playing Pakistan, Sunil Gavaskar feels India must play and beat them on June 16 at Old Trafford.

According to the media reports Akhtar said "The series would have a monetary value of 600 million dollars. Do you think they don't? Of course, they want that. Now speaking on part of their argument, they want to play with Pakistan.”

“Our Pakistan board had mentioned that they want to play a bilateral series and you cannot deny it although the series can be held at a different venue altogether. But they have said that they have a board to run which falls under Supreme Court. That is their argument and that is logical” Akhtar added.

He also said that during such situations, it is not mandatory to keep politics out of sports.

"Should sports stay political? Not at all. So these differences set in matters of circumstances. We strongly condemn the loss of lives. But when it comes to our country, we are one nation, united and we will stand by our Prime Minister's statement without having a second thought. They have a right to pull out. Their country was attacked and hence the decision. You cannot argue on that?

"Our forte is to talk about cricket and not about the political scene. When such things happen, try to create bridges as a cricketer. It is very important as players to talk about things that bring about unity rather than antagonizing the situation," the right-arm fast bowler said.

READ ALSO: Pulwama Attack: Pakistan Army Warns India Will Respond With 'Full Force' If War Imposed

However, if India indeed decides to do so, they could face some harsh punishment.

"Government should advice the BCCI as every tournament has its own rules. Since a lot of countries would be participating (ICC members), we might have to face consequences, bear the losses or face two or three-year ban if India withdraws or does not play against Pakistan," former India cricketer Chetan Chauhan told ANI.

The World Cup is scheduled to begin May 30 in England. Chauhan is, however, adamant that India should launch protest one way or another but work according to what the government decides.

"Had it been in Pakistan, I would have readily said not to play or had it been in India, I would have said do not call Pakistan in the wake of the attack on our soldiers. But the tournament will be hosted in England and the world cup is something which is decided eight or ten years in advance," he said.

There have also been calls of India trying to oust Pakistan from the World Cup completely but there are no such rules in the cricket body's constitution.

"There is absolutely no constitutional or contractual way this could happen. The ICC constitution allows members the right to participate in ICC event as long as they have qualified," a top BCCI official told PTI.