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Should India play against Pakistan in the ICC World Cup 2019?
"Cricket is a gentlemen's game and therefore only gentlemen should play it. Pakistan is a country of terrorists and supporters of terror. Therefore it is not a country of gentlemen. Why should any country play cricket with such a goddamn country?"

The above is the common logic and reasoning given by nation loving Indians for India to boycott playing against Pakistan in the upcoming ICC World Cup to be held from 30 May to 14 July, 2019 in England where India is hot favorite to win along with the hosts.

India hasn't played any bilateral cricket series with Pakistan since 2012-13, only occasionally clashing with them in ICC tournaments like the Champions Trophy. The Pulwama terror attack has created ripples in the minds of Indians and no one seems to be in a mood to forgive Pakistan. There's a reverberant call from the public that India should boycott not only bilateral matches but all cricket fixtures against Pakistan.

The format is such that all ten countries will play round robin matches and the top four will advance to the semifinals. So India can afford to forfeit the match against Pakistan and still qualify for the semifinals by winning at least six of the remaining eight matches. But is it the right step forward? Here is my analysis:


In 1996, both Australia and the West Indies forfeited their league matches against Sri Lanka for safety reasons subsequent to the Central Bank bombing by the Tamil Tigers in January 1996. That helped Sri Lanka get four easy points to top the group.

But as the matters unfolded, Sri Lanka met Australia in the final at Lahore. Arjuna Ranatunga, the captain of Sri Lanka, was not amused when Australia did not play them in Sri Lanka during the league stage. He famously said before the final, "It is not about meeting Australia in the final, it is all about beating them." Needless to mention, Sri Lanka did beat Australia to lift their maiden World Cup trophy.

What would have happened if West Indies and Australia hadn't forfeited their matches against Sri Lanka is open to speculation. Although there is no doubt that Sri Lanka benefitted, I'll not take anything away from the Sri Lankans as they were the deserving champions in 1996.

If India forfeits its match against Pakistan, history may repeat.

Should India forfeit the match?

The June 16, 2019 ICC World Cup fixture between India and Pakistan at Manchester was sold off within hours of opening of the ticket bookings. A cricket match between India and Pakistan generates highest revenue and interest among the cricket fans. If this match is cancelled or India does not take the field, then it will be a huge heart break for the cricket fans from both the countries and the World Cup will lose its sheen.

India, by not playing Pakistan, will actually help Pakistan garnering two points which may help them to qualify for the semifinals. What if there is semifinal or final between India and Pakistan? Conceding a knockout match will go against the spirit of the sport and create a wrong precedence that will eventually harm the sport. In addition, there will be legal proceedings. If India forfeit the league match, but play the knockout match, then the policy will be questioned because of inconsistency. The World Cup is once-in-a-four-year tournament and hence it should not be demeaned in this fashion.

So, I think India should not forfeit the match against Pakistan. India has never lost to Pakistan in a world cup encounter. So why give a walk over now?

What should India do?

India should campaign to remove Pakistan from world cricket citing terror as the reason.

In 2009, there was a terror attack on Sri Lankan players in Pakistan which resulted in the refusal of all teams to play in Pakistan forcing them to play their home matches in the UAE. Such a country, which attacks visiting cricket team members, is not civilized. India should use this as an example. The Pakistan sponsored terror attacks on India, most recently the Pulwama attack, should be highlighted as the valid reasons for global boycott of Pakistan.  

The cricket boards have to listen to their governments. The Modi government must initiate diplomatic talks with ICC member countries to gather their support for suspending Pakistan.

Sports and politics should not be mixed, all right, but to teach a lesson to a rogue nation like Pakistan sometimes desperate measures are required.  

In 1970, the ICC had voted to suspend South Africa from international cricket indefinitely because of its government's policy of apartheid, an overtly racist policy, which led them to play only against the white nations (England, Australia, New Zealand), and field only white players. The suspension was repealed in 1991 when apartheid policy was scrapped.

Similarly, India can demand a voting of ICC members to boycott Pakistan for supporting, nurturing and sponsoring terror attacks on India. This is an even more serious crime than the apartheid policy, and so why can't Pakistan be boycotted? India is the backbone of the ICC as far as revenue is concerned. ICC cannot function without the BCCI. Therefore, India must leverage its advantageous position in world cricket to get Pakistan suspended as a cricket playing nation until it acts and stops terrorism completely.

If the ICC members do not vote in majority to suspend Pakistan, then India may decide not to play the World Cup at all. That will be a huge blow for the ICC while reinforcing India's stand.

I always believe that the country always comes first than anything else. So India should do the following in the order of priority:

1.     Get Pakistan suspended from the World Cup and ICC

2.     If Pakistan is not suspended, then boycott the World Cup.

3.     But if playing in the World Cup, India shouldn't forfeit any match.

The BCCI is meeting today to decide their course of action. Hopefully, they will decide wisely.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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