Hockey India chief Narinder Batra blasts BCCI for India-Pakistan cricket revival

New Delhi: Hockey India chief Narinder Batra on Saturday blasted the BCCI for deciding to resume cricketing ties with Pakistan at a time when soldiers are dying in the line of duty.

The BCCI is awaiting the government nod to play Pakistan in Sri Lanka, a complete change of stance from the world's richest cricket board months after its secretary Anurag Thakur had ruled out revival of cricketing ties with arch-rivals until cross-border terrorism stops.

Whatever the government's decision may be, the BCCI's decision has not gone down well with the Indian hockey boss. "Colonel Santosh Mahadik was martyred only a week ago and BCCI wants to play cricket with Pakistan. I am appalled at BCCI's change of stance. They (BCCI) were thinking differently as recent as July with Anurag Thakur ruling out ties with Pakistan until terrorism stops. Now a change of leadership under Shashank Manohar has led to a change of heart," Batra told PTI from Raipur where he is overseeing the conduct of Hockey World League Final.

In August, Thakur's tweet had made headlines. "Dawood in Karachi. NSA wants to meet separatists here. Are you really serious about peace and you expect we'll play cricket with you (Pakistan)?" Thakur had written.

Batra blamed the Indian cricket board for choosing monetary gains over public sentiment across the country. "It is all about money (that BCCI wants to play Pakistan) but in times like these you have to rise above monetary gains.

We all know Hockey India needs more money than BCCI but we trashed the MoU with Pakistan dating back to 2012 in the wake of cross-border terrorism. Now BCCI is talking about honouring MoU. I suggest them they pay their state units less if they are so much bothered about monetary gains," he said.

The sports administrator also vented out his anger and frustration on social media.

"Hockey as of today is cash-starved and in a bi-lateral series with Pakistan, Hockey India could profit approx Rs 5 crore but respect for nation and our martyrs is of prime importance for us. When it comes to Pakistan, the money becomes irrelevant for Hockey India," he commented. Batra reiterated his stance that Indian hockey team will not play Pakistan in a bi-lateral series until relations between the two countries improve and Pakistan Hockey Federation apologies for its players' indecent behaviour during the 2014 Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar.

Though he feels the BCCI getting government nod for cricket series is a mere formality, he hopes the series doesn't not take place.

"I certainly hope BCCI will call off this bilateral series with Pakistan in Sri Lanka. I know some of you might say that sports and politics should not be mixed but not in the case of Pakistan," he added.

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