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BCCI Vice-President Speaks on India’s Participation in Pakistan’s Champions Trophy

As the international cricket community gears up for the upcoming Champions Trophy in early 2025, conversations and speculations whirl around the participation of one of the cricketing giants—India. With Pakistan poised to host an ICC tournament for the first time since the 1996 ODI World Cup, all eyes are on the neighboring rivals, India, whose attendance at the event is under a cloud of political tension.

In a recent interaction with news agency ANI, Rajeev Shukla, the vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has put forth the stance of the Indian cricket board on this matter. “In the case of the Champion Trophy, we will do whatever the Government of India will tell us to do. We send our team only when the Government of India gives us permission. So we will go according to the decision of the Indian government,” stated Shukla, setting a clear precedent of adhering to the directives of the Indian government regarding the team’s travels.

As reported by ESPNCricinfo, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is considering Lahore, Karachi, and Rawalpindi as the venues for this global tournament. Interestingly, another report by the same sports website suggested that India’s matches are poised to take place in Lahore, according to a draft schedule for the Champions Trophy. However, the prevailing question is whether the Men in Blue will indeed cross borders to compete in the tournament or choose non-participation.

The history between these two cricketing powerhouses is rich but marred by strained diplomatic relations. Not since the Asia Cup in 2008 has an Indian cricket team played in Pakistan, marking a significant hiatus in their bilateral encounters on Pakistan soil. The last time the nations faced each other in a bilateral series was during the winters of 2012 and January 2013.

In more recent times, Pakistan successfully hosted the Asia Cup in September of the previous year using a ‘hybrid model,’ which saw India’s part of the competition being conducted in Sri Lanka due to the existing tensions. This unique arrangement witnessed the much-anticipated India vs Pakistan clashes and the final taking place in the cities of Kandy and Colombo, respectively.

This concept of a hybrid model was also suggested by Pakistan for the ODI World Cup 2023 hosted in India, which, however, did not come into fruition. In that tournament, Pakistan played their league stage matches across varied venues which included Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Kolkata but failed to advance into the knockout stages.

In the wake of these developments, the cricketing fraternity and the enthusiastic fans remain in anticipation of the Indian government’s decision regarding the team’s participation in Pakistan. The implications of this decision will not only be felt within the realm of the sport but also in the broader context of the political relationship between India and Pakistan.

The Champions Trophy in Pakistan is not just a cricket tournament but also a litmus test for the sporting ties between hostile neighbors. The possibility of India joining the event in Pakistan can be seen as a beacon of hope for normalization or as a testament to the rigidity of political discord.

Will the Indian cricket team traverse the journey to Pakistan in what could be a historic cricketing event amidst the fraught bilateral ties, or will they forego the tournament, maintaining the status quo of separation? This question remains open-ended for now as the world waits with bated breath for a resolution. The BCCI has laid down its cards; the move now lies with the Government of India, whose decision will be paramount in the run-up to the Champions Trophy of 2025.