'Traditional rivals, not enemies': Zaka Ashraf takes U-turn on 'dushman mulk' remark, PCB issues clarification
The PCB issued a statement following Zaka Ashraf's controversial remark on India after Pakistan's players arrived in the country for the 2023 World Cup.
Pakistan's cricket team received a warm welcome upon arriving in India, as Babar Azam's men prepare to take part in the 2023 World Cup starting October 5. Many fans gathered at the Hyderabad airport and chanted Pakistan players' names – particularly that of Babar – as the side landed in India on Wednesday. However, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf stirred controversy shortly after the side arrived in India, as he indirectly referred to India as the “enemy nation.”
On the same day as their arrival, the PCB had announced a salary increase for its players. Following this, Ashraf mentioned that the raise in central contracts would provide additional motivation to the players as they prepare for the World Cup in a country considered an "enemy" by some.
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Ashraf's comments drew significant flak from fans across both sides of the border, as well as the BCCI officials (according to PTI) and the PCB late Friday issued a clarification on the same. Referring to Pakistan's brilliant welcome in India, Ashraf said that it reflected the deep affection fans on both sides have for the players.
"This love was evident by the reception arranged at the Hyderabad airport. Zaka Ashraf personally congratulated the Indians over arranging a reception of this kind. He mentioned that whenever India and Pakistan step onto the cricket field, they emerge as traditional rivals but not as enemies," the statement said.
"Chairman Management Committee also emphasised that cricket between Pakistan and India have always been the centre of global attention which is why cricket between the two countries is considered more significant than the other contests in this sport."
The two teams play each other in ICC events and Asia Cup due to the tense relations between the two countries. The players however get along well with each other. Babar Azam, Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf were left overwhelmed with the welcome at Hyderabad airport.
Ashraf is expected to attend the blockbuster India-Pakistan clash in Ahmedabad on October 14.
“Chairman Management Committee also emphasised that cricket between Pakistan and India have always been the centre of global attention which is why cricket between the two countries is considered more significant than the other contests in this sport.” it stated.
Pakistan face defeat in warm-up game
Pakistan didn't have the best of starts to their campaign in the World Cup, as they faced a five-wicket loss to New Zealand despite scoring a strong 345/5 score after batting first in Hyderabad. New Zealand chased down the target in just 43.4 overs, with Kane Williamson's return being a further boost for the side. Williamson, however, won't take part in the opening match of the campaign against England due to a persisting knee issue, and didn't field against Pakistan as well.
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