Lahore, Nov 30 (UNI) With reports claiming that the terrorists who attacked Mumbai, claiming about 200 lives, were Pakistanis, leading players, especially the ones who had defected to the rebel ICL, hope that cricket will certainly bring the two countries closer like it did in the past.
The bloodshed in Mumbai days had shocked the entire cricketing world, and India pointing their finger of blame at Pakistan has also raised tensions between the two neighbours, who are both mad about cricket.
''Cricket brought Pakistan and India closer in the past and I'm sure this great game will once again help defuse any tensions between the two countries,'' said hard-hitting batsman Mohammad Yousuf.
Yousuf defected to the Indian Cricket League (ICL) earlier this month and later blamed the shabby treatment from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and national team captain Shoaib Malik for the switch.
The 34-year-old further said, ''India should tour Pakistan for the January-February series, which should be played at all costs to make it clear to terrorists the two countries will not be cowed by such dastardly acts.
''The Indian team must play in Pakistan or it will only encourage the terrorist elements,'' Yousuf was quoted as saying by 'The News' at the Jinnah Terminal in Karachi, after he arrived from Ahmedabad following the cancellation of the ICL World Series in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.
The senior batsman said he and his teammates were deeply disturbed by what happened in Mumbai.
Along with several Pakistani Test cricketers and his teammates like Mohammad Sami, Imran Farhat, Imran Nazir, coach of ICL Pakistan team Moin Khan, who arrived in Karachi said, ''The terrorist attacks in Mumbai, was bad news for international cricket but I hope that both Pakistan and India will join hands to land a counterpunch on terrorism.
''Cricket has always played its role in normalising relations between the two countries and I feel it is now all the more necessary for India to tour Pakistan and vice versa,'' the former Pakistan captain stressed.
Former Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq, captain of the Lahore Badshah team in the ICL, who landed here last night, however commented on a different issue. He said, ''The PCB should consider national players, who were some of the success stories of the ICL season that came to a halt because of the Mumbai killings.
''Players like Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Abdul Razzaq and Imran Nazir were very impressive in the ICL matches and they and some other players are good enough to play for Pakistan,'' said Inzamam, who led his team to a title-winning triumph in the ICL event earlier this month.
Inzamam further stressed the PCB should reconsider its rigid stance towards the ICL players.
However, it seems that the PCB, which has banned all of its ICL players, is unlikely to soften its stance in the near future.
Just the other day, the Board chief Ijaz Butt while speaking to mediapersons said, ''The ICL is an unrecognised league and PCB will not bring back the players who are associated with it.
On Friday night, national team players Kamran Akmal and Sohail Tanvir has also urged India to tour Pakistan as per schedule.
''It's very important for the two countries to continue exchanging cricket tours and not play in the hands of terrorists,'' stressed the duo, who were in Mumbai when the terror incidents began.
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