Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar called for a made-for-television India-Pakistan tie to raise funds for COVID-19 pandemic.
“In this time of crisis, I want to propose a three-match series in which, for the first time, the people of neither country would be upset at the outcome of the games,” Akhtar told PTI.
India and Pakistan haven’t engaged in bilateral contest since 2012-201, owing to the political tension between the two.
Akhtar believes “both teams will be the winners”, irrespective the outcome of the series: “If Virat (Kohli) scores a hundred, we will be happy, if Babar Azam scores a hundred, you will be happy. Both teams will be winners, irrespective of whatever happens on the field.
“You are bound to get massive viewership for the games. For the first time, both countries will play for each other. And whatever funds are generated through this can be donated equally to the government of India and Pakistan to fight this pandemic.”
Akhar believes this could also help the two countries ‘improve diplomatically’.
“Everyone is sitting at home at the moment, so there will be a massive following for the games,” he said. “May be not now, when things start improving, the games could be organised at a neutral location like Dubai. Chartered flights could be arranged, and the matches could he held.
“It could even lead to resumption of bilateral cricketing ties, and relations of both countries improve diplomatically. You never know.
“The whole world will tune into it, so much money can be raised to deal with this crisis. In difficult times, the character of the nation comes forward.”
Akhtar also appealed India to provide ventilators to Pakistan.
“If India can make 10,000 ventilators for us, Pakistan will remember this gesture forever. But we can only propose the matches. The rest is up to the authorities (to decide),” Akhtar told PTI.
However, Akhtar’s comment doesn’t seem to have gone well with veteran Kapil Dev, who responded saying: “India doesn’t need money.”
Meanwhile, Akhtar came out in support of Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh, who were recently trolled by the Hindutva brigade for donating to Shahid Afridi’s charity foundation.
“It was inhuman to criticise them. It is not about countries or religion at the moment, it is about humanity,” Akhtar said.