India Should Be Ready To Forfeit Pakistan Match, Says Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir had been vociferous about his stand to cut cricketing ties with Pakistan after the Pulwama terror attack.
Former India opener Gautam Gambhir has said that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has to have a firm stand on cricketing relations with Pakistan. Gautam Gambhir, who was speaking to reporters on the side of a promotional event, stressed that BCCI should either snap all cricketing ties with Pakistan, including multi-lateral events, or engage with the arch-rivals at every level as "there can't be conditional bans". Gambhir had been vocal about snapping all cricketing ties with Pakistan after the Pulwama terror attack and said that cricket board has to decide and be prepared for the consequences.
"There can't be conditional bans. Either you ban everything with Pakistan or open everything with Pakistan. What has happened in Pulwama is absolutely not acceptable," Gambhir said.
"I am sure its going to be difficult for India to boycott them in ICC tournaments but stop playing Pakistan in the Asia Cup," said the left-hander.
Gambhir reiterated that there should be a blanket ban on engagement with Pakistan even if it comes at the cost of being ostracised by the sporting community.
The BCCI had appealed to the ICC to snap ties with countries from where terror-emanates in a veiled reference to Pakistan. But the request was turned down at the ICC board meeting in Dubai.
Gambhir cited England's forfeiture of their 2003 World Cup round-robin fixture against Zimbabwe in protest of the Robert Mugabe regime.
"England decided in 2003 and they wouldn't go to Zimbabwe, they forfeited. If BCCI decides not to play against Pakistan, everyone should be mentally ready to give those two points," he said.
"There could be repercussions and we may not qualify for the semi-finals. No media should blame the Indian team if they plan to boycott playing Pakistan," he said.
Asked what should be done if the two teams meet in the final, Gambhir said in that case, India should forfeit the final.
"Two points are not that important. Country is important, those 40 soldiers who lost their lives are far more important than a cricket match. If we let go of a World Cup final, the country should be ready for it," Gambhir said.
Asked if India's stand could lead to a sporting boycott of the nation in the near future, Gambhir said that he wouldn't mind that.
"All of us need to decide if sport is more important or lives of our soldiers? I am all for facing backlash if the international sporting federations decide to ostracize us. Sentiment of the country is far more important than sports, Bollywood, art or culture," he said.
(With inputs from Rica Roy and PTI)