The upcoming 2023 Asia Cup is marred by a disagreement between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) over the hosting rights. Although Pakistan is the designated host, BCCI Secretary Jay Shah announced last year that India would not travel to Pakistan and the tournament must take place in a neutral venue. The PCB has remained resolute in their stance and threatened to boycott the 2023 World Cup to be held in India.

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Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has urged Team India to visit Pakistan and take the initiative to improve relations between the two countries. Afridi reminisced about the warm reception both teams had received on past tours, and he called for political leaders to come together for dialogue. While acknowledging the significant responsibility of the leaders, he emphasized that it is the only solution to the conflict.

“It would have been really nice if India had come. It would have been a step towards cricket and Pakistan for India. This is not a generation of wars and fights, we want relationships to get better. We have played against India with a lot of love and affection. I remember when we came to India, we got an outstanding response. If you remember the 2005 series, Harbhaja and Yuvraj used to go shopping and to restaurants, and no one used to charge them money. This is the beauty of the two nations,” said Afridi in a press conference for the Legends League Cricket.

India last visited Pakistan in 2008 for the Asia Cup, and the last bilateral series on Pakistani soil occurred in 2006. Since a short white-ball series in 2012-13 on Indian soil, the two countries have not played any bilateral cricket with each other. Pakistan’s last tour of India was for the 2016 T20 World Cup, which was also Afridi’s final appearance for his country.

— Abdullah Khan Sadu Zai (@Abdulla55554758) March 11, 2023

It is crucial to resolve this impasse and host the Asia Cup and the World Cup without any boycotts or disruptions. Sports can be an excellent tool for bringing people together and bridging differences. Afridi’s appeal to Team India and political leaders to take the necessary steps to restore cordial relations between the two nations is commendable. The fans of both countries would be ecstatic to witness the return of the riveting contests between India and Pakistan.

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