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Wisden Cricinfo staff
October 6, 2003
Sanjay Manjrekar with Rameez Raja and Waqar Younis - can we play, please? © AFP
Sanjay Manjrekar has spoken out in favour of India touring Pakistan next February, as scheduled in the ICC calendar. Speaking at a seminar in Lahore, Manjrekar made a strong case for the resumption of Indo-Pak cricket ties.
The topic of the seminar was "Pakistan v India - Why not?" Manjrekar's co-speakers on the occasion were Rameez Raja, now the chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board, and the former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis, and it was attended by about 500 students of the Lahore University of Management Sciences, where the seminar was held.
"If ever India has a chance to beat Pakistan in Pakistan," said Manjrekar, "it would be in February next year." As things stand, the tour looks unlikely to take place. The political reasoning which led the Indian government to stop touring Pakistan remains in place, and the weight of history gets heavier with each passing year.
"Over the years it has become a difficult political decision," said Manjrekar. "The BCCI wants to resume ties and it was not a big issue three years ago, but since the gap is getting bigger the decision is becoming a major one."
Manjrekar, who made a memorable double-century in Lahore the last time India toured Pakistan for a Test series [1989-90], was in the country as a commentator for Pakistan's series against South Africa. "I didn't know what to expect when preparing to tour Pakistan," said Manjrekar. "My family was especially sceptical and worried what reception I would get, but from my arrival to this day I have been looked after so well that I feel like at home."
Rameez felt that public pressure in India could influence the government to reverse their decision. "The strength in people's voice can change the angle of politicians," he said. "At government level we want to play, but the blockade is on the Indian side. We can challenge the entire world if India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka play each other regularly."
Rameez also spoke of how Pakistan would benefit financially if India played there. "We can earn US$11million in 20 days of cricket with India, and it is imperative and important that India plays Pakistan."
Waqar said: "The biggest regret in my 14-year career is that I played only four Tests against India. I think we are missing a great duel. People talk about [the] Ashes series and South Africa v Australia, but I think Pakistan v India is the best."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.