In an unprecedented display of cricket diplomacy, BCCI President Roger Binny and Vice-President Rajeev Shukla embarked on a historic journey to Pakistan for the prestigious Asia Cup 2023. Their arrival in Lahore was met with warm embraces from PCB Chair Zaka Ashraf, signifying a thaw in cricketing relations.
Upon stepping onto Pakistani soil, Binny expressed profound gratitude for the gracious welcome extended to the Indian delegation. This visit carries a profound resonance, as it marks Binny’s return to Pakistan since his last sojourn in 2005, where he actively engaged with the fast bowlers of the Asian Cricket Council. With anticipation in the air, Binny noted their plans to witness the Sri Lanka-Afghanistan clash the following day.
In his words, “My name is Roger Binny from the BCCI. I am very pleased to be back in Pakistan. My last visit to Pakistan was in 2005 when we worked with the Pakistan fast bowlers of the Asian Cricket Council. It’s been a very welcome trip. Thank you for inviting us over. We will watch Sri Lanka play Afghanistan tomorrow. Thank you very much,” as captured in a video shared by PCB.
This unprecedented visit carries immense significance in the world of cricket diplomacy, exemplifying the sport’s unique ability to bridge divides and nurture international camaraderie. As the steward of the world’s wealthiest cricket governing body, Binny’s presence in Pakistan underscores the profound importance of the Asia Cup and the enduring spirit of collaboration among cricketing nations.
Binny and Shukla received invitations as BCCI envoys to an official dinner in Lahore, celebrating Pakistan’s role as host of the tournament. It’s worth noting that due to the BCCI’s reservations regarding playing games in Pakistan, only four out of thirteen matches are scheduled to be hosted in Pakistan, with the remainder taking place in Pallekelle and Colombo, where Sri Lanka shares the co-hosting duties.
In the tournament itself, Team India faces Nepal in a crucial encounter. A victory or even a draw is imperative for securing their place in the Super 4s stage. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s strong performance earned them the distinction of being the first team to qualify for the Super 4 stage, courtesy of a win over Nepal and a draw against arch-rivals India.
As cricket fans watch with bated breath, this diplomatic cricket mission exemplifies the powerful bond that transcends borders and reaffirms cricket’s place as a universal language of sportsmanship and unity.