As India and Pakistan gear up for Sunday's riveting ICC Champions Trophy 2017 final at The Oval here, Afridi felt bilateral matches needed to be restarted which, according to him, will help in "reducing tensions". The Indian government has already shown the red flag for any bilateral cricketing ties with Pakistan until it stops sponsoring cross-border terrorism.
Afridi, however wrote in his column for the International Cricket Council (ICC) website that engaging in bilateral matches will only help in underlining the message of peace and tolerance for each other. "I would also want the cricketing world and the ICC to keep a close eye on the significance of an Indo-Pak cricket match of this magnitude and what it means to the fans of the game all around," he wrote.
"I really hope that we see resumption of bilateral cricket between the two countries and would request the Indian cricket board and the Indian government to soften their stance. "Having captained Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup semi-final at Mohali, I know the importance of the game and how it brings the two nations to a standstill while underlining the message of peace and tolerance for each other," the flamboyant all-rounder wrote.
Afridi further said that more such games can actually help in bringing the two nations together. "Cricket can be an actual source of bringing the two nations together and reducing the tensions. I, like the rest of the world, can't wait for the match to start," he said. "Let us hope that we see a game of epic proportions that is remembered for a long, long time," he added.
Bilateral cricket between the two countries came to a standstill since the 2012-13 season, but the neighbours have played each other in major ICC tournaments. --IANS