Forget fighting: Pak-India politicians in cricket face-off


ISLAMABAD: (DNA) –  While cricket matches between national teams of Pakistan and India at their home grounds are nowhere in sight because of bilateral tensions, their parliamentary teams will play this sport in Britain in coming July.The British parliamentary cricket team is hosting the event in the UK on July 8-15 on the sidelines of the Cricket World Cup to be played from May 30 to July 14, 2019. A total of eight parliamentary teams will participate in the event. At the same time, the national cricket teams of Pakistan andIndia will play matches in the World Cup.

Meanwhile, an intense struggle is going on among nearly forty-three Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) belonging to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to make it to the parliamentary squad, which will consist of a total of 15 players.

Importantly, two federal ministers – Fawad Chaudhry and Ali Amin Gandapur – and one Special Assistant – Ali Nawaz Awan – are also in the race for induction in the team. National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar asked the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to select the MPs’ team. The PCB named Mudassir Nazar, Director Academies to coordinate the effort.

Mudassir Nazar nominated Shakil Shaikh, President of the Islamabad Region Cricket Association (IRCA), to do the job. The Speaker picked up MNA from Multan Zain Hussain Qureshi (son of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi) as the coordinator.

“This is the first time in the history that the parliamentary team is being formed and would play the sports in Britain,” IRCA President Shakil Shaikh told The News.

To ensure a neutral and transparent mechanism for selection of the team, he assigned the task to the three head coaches of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Tribal Areas regions Taimoor Azam, Sabih Azhar and Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai respectively. They are acting as selectors. They are also working as the coaches for training of these lawmakers. Trials are currently underway and it is mandatory for the aspirant MPs to take part in them otherwise they would not be considered for selection. Their cricketing performance is being reviewed.

Shakil Shaikh said that practice matches of the team would also be held in Qaddafi Stadium Lahore. A clash between the parliamentary team and PCB Eleven comprising famed former cricketers would be arranged as a big event.

Besides the teams of Pakistan, India and Britain, squads of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Afghanistan and Bangladesh will figure in the tournament. It will be a T-15 format while the final will be of twenty overs. The MPs under 45 years of age qualify to contest for a place in the team. They will also be given training by the National Cricket Academy Lahore.

The partial list of hopefuls available to The News shows the dominance of the PTI MNAs. They are Sadaqat Abbasi, Malik Anwar Taj, Fazal Muhammad Khan, Sher Ali Arbab, Imran Khattak, Shahid Ahmad, Ali Amin Khan, Gul Dad Khan, Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz, Ali Nawaz Awan, Fawad Ahmad, Farrukh Habib, Faizullah, Amir Sultan, Rai Muhammad Murtaza Iqbal, Makhdoom Zain Hussain Qureshi, Faheem Khan, Alamgir Khan and Jamshad Thomas.

The PML-N MNAs include Dr Ibadullah Khan, Azhar Qayyum Nahra, Dr Malik Mukhtar Ahmad, Rana Iradat Sharif Khan and Kesso Mal Khel Das.

The PPP lawmakers are Sajjad Hussain Turi, Syed Mustafa Mehmood, Syed Murtaza Mehmood, Abid Hussain Bhuyo, Jam Abdul Karim Bijar and Naveed Dero. It is believed that an effort would be made to give representation to all three major parliamentary parties to avoid any unnecessary controversy, marring the upcoming episode.

No member of the Upper House of Parliament figures among the aspirants as Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani was not asked by the Speaker to request the Senators to apply for selection in the parliamentary team. Organisers are likely to urge the team comprising the ruling party and opposition parties to keep their perennial tussle away from the sports during the competition.