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Tried ‘Isolating’ Pakistan under Public Pressure; COA Chief Vinod Rai

“People were saying it, the media was reporting it.”

What is the role of a cricket administrator? To organize cricket in an orderly manner and fulfill international commitments or respond to jingoistic urges of the nation?

Months after trying to ‘isolate’ Pakistan, Committee of Administrators (COA) chief Vinod Rai talked to Indian Express about the sequence of events that occurred in the aftermath of Pulwama attack.

“Now, India was slated to play Pakistan on June 16… There was rhetoric built up over here that India should refuse to play with Pakistan. People were saying it, the media was reporting it. The media was not cooking it up. The media reports pick up news from the ground,” Rai said.

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So Rai tried to deflect the attention in what proved to be an ineffective attempt to ‘isolate’ Pakistan at the ICC.

“If we don’t play Pakistan (in the World Cup), we lose one point, two points, and that doesn’t matter. But suppose Pakistan comes up in the semi-final and we withdraw. Isn’t that shooting yourself in the foot? We would be closing avenues for ourselves. Which, I thought, was an incorrect move. So I said, rather than shooting ourselves in the foot, let’s isolate them,” he added.

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Eventually, it came down to the fact that Indian administrators couldn’t take the heat of ‘general opinion’ and did something to simply defer the matter.

Talking about the future, the COA chief said that teams can play on the neutral venue as per the policy of the Indian government.

“On playing Pakistan, I think there is a government policy…that you can play on neutral territory, and not on each others’… We are very clear in our minds that on neutral territory we will play any country.” Rai informed.

Whether the Indian media is simply pliable or they are setting the agenda can be debated. However, it is abundantly clear that whether its cinema, sports or politics, there no one in a leadership position is willing to be a contrarian. Media reports are dictating official policy even when it comes to cricket administration.

A sad state for a country which celebrates being the largest democracy in the world.


Asjad Khan

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