Shahid Afridi has called for sports to be used as a tool to improve relations between India and Pakistan. Cricket has been one of the causalities of the volatile relations between the neighbouring countries, who have not engaged in a full bilateral series since 2007.
Afridi drew on his recent experience of playing alongside Indians in an exhibition Ice Cricket tournament in Switzerland, suggesting that cricket could play a role in melting the ice.
“Due to lack of international cricket between the two countries, we now play either in the ICC tournaments or the events such as Ice Cricket,” Afridi told Wisden India. “I believe politics should be kept away from sports. It should rather be used as a tool to improve relations between the countries. Sport is something which can play a big role in bringing peace.”
Afridi captained the Royals in a series of two 20-over matches played at 1800 metres above sea level and in below zero degrees Celsius temperatures in St Moritz, Switzerland. The Indian players who featured in the event were Virender Sehwag, Mohammad Kaif, Zaheer Khan, Joginder Sharma, Ajit Agarkar and Ramesh Powar.
Afridi and Sehwag also brought back memories of Indo-Pak cricket when they squared off in a T10 tournament in Sharjah in December last year.
“It was nice to meet and play with players from India after a long time,” Afridi reminisced. “That was something very positive about the tournament and I think it should continue. Both countries should also be playing international cricket against each other. The overall experience of ice cricket was quite interesting. It was very cold. Initially, we didn’t even feel the touch of bat and ball on our hands but later we got used to with it.”
Even two years after his retirement from international cricket, Afridi continues to dazzle in domestic leagues. As recently as in December last year, he took 15 wickets in eight games for Dhaka Dynamites in the Bangladesh Premier League. Prior to that, he scored his maiden T20 hundred, off just 42 balls, for Hampshire in the quarterfinal of England’s domestic 20-over competition at Hove.
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“The last couple of seasons in the leagues have been good for me. Sometimes I go months without cricket, therefore before an event, I have to put in the extra yards to get myself ready for cricket. I have started to practice for the PSL. I have reduced my other activities and am focusing more on the PSL. Hopefully, the upcoming season will be good for me,” he concluded.
PSL 2018 will start on February 22 in the UAE and finish off on March 25 in Pakistan. The two eliminators and the final of the tournament will be played in Lahore and Karachi respectively.