August 31, 2001

Imran urges ICC to penalize India

Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan Thursday demanded the International Cricket Council (ICC) to impose sanctions on India after they withdrew from the Asian Test Championship.

"The ICC should penalize India for not honouring the commitment," the legendary Khan said from Islamabad.

The Asiad was left in a spin by India when it withdrew two weeks before the commencement of the championship citing security fears and political hassles. However, the event manager decided to go ahead with the tournament.

"Had they not confirmed participation, it would have been a different issue. But withdrawing two weeks back is a serious crime and it should not go unnoticed. The ICC should impose penalty on India for breaking the commitment," Imran, who led Pakistan to the World Cup glory at Melbourne in 1992, said.

The all-rounder said India had dented Pakistan's kitty late last year and did the same to the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) while Pakistan helped them earn revenues worth million when they toured India in 1999. He demanded reciprocity and urged the Pakistan cricket administrators to think seriously about its relations with India.

India cancelled a scheduled tour to Pakistan early this year which resulted in an estimated $15million loss to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). On the contrary, India is expected to have earned $50million when Pakistan played two Tests and then the tri-nation series in 1999.

"I am perplexed as India has no problems playing Pakistan in any other sport except cricket. I am sure there is some other reason behind," he said with reference to India's acceptance to send a 350-athlete contingent for October's SAF Games in Islamabad.

The cricketer-turned-politician said Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was interested in talks with Pakistan and ease out tension between the two countries but he was not being allowed to meet with the demands of the public by the right wing extremists.

Commenting on Bangladesh's early days in the exclusive Test club and being thrashed mercilessly by Pakistan here, Imran was of the view that they needed time to settle down and get used to the demands of the standards at the highest level.

"Once a country is awarded Test status, the improvement comes in quantum. If you go back, Pakistan and India were also called 'B' teams when they started cricket. I think the Test nation comes under pressure when they are new but they are bound to improve," he said.