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26/11 Mumbai Terror Attacks: 10 years of hurt for Pakistan Cricket Team

By : Siddharth Vishwanathan | Updated on: 26 Nov 2018, 11:47:59 AM
Pakistan and India have not played a bilateral series since 2012 and have played only in multi-nation events. (Image credit: Twitter)

New Delhi:

The cricketing battle between India and Pakistan is one of the most intense, bitter, passionate and jingoistic rivalries in sport. Whenever these two nations collide on the field, passion and patriotism run high on the field. A cricketing series between India and Pakistan is the most sought-after affair in international cricket. The political relations between the two countries would be in a state of war, but cricket gave the fans a welcome relief from the tensions. However, Indo-Pak relations changed for the worse 10 years ago. It all started in Mumbai and since then, Pakistan’s cricket has suffered hurt, disappointment and continued setbacks. 

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On November 26, 2008, Mumbai was scarred forever by a deadly terror attack when 10 members of the Pakistan-based Islamic terrorist organisation, Lashkar-e-Taiba, stormed India's financial capital and carried out a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks. 165 people were killed and over 300 sustained serious injuries. It took security forces four days to neutralize the attackers. One of the terrorists, Ajmal Kasab, was captured alive and executed on November 12, 2012. Ten years on, the scars remain in Mumbai. However, for Pakistan and its cricket, their disappointment continues.

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Massive repercussions

The 26/11 Mumbai Terror attacks resulted in all sporting ties between India and Pakistan suspended. This meant that Pakistan players, who had featured in the first edition of the Indian Premier League, were now banned from participating in the tournament. The ban has been enforced strictly and 10 editions later, no Pakistan player is considered in the IPL auction.

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With the suspension of bilateral cricket ties, India vs Pakistan cricket took a back seat. Indo-Pak ties were always dictated by the existing government to government level ties between the two countries but with the Mumbai terror attack, a clearance from the home ministry and the Indian government to resume ties became a lot harder.

The situation between the two sides has not improved and the latest instance when the Pakistan Cricket Board alleged that Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to play bilateral series between the two sides from 2015 to 2023 was not honoured by the BCCI. The Indian Board added that bilateral cricket with Pakistan was subject to government clearance, which has not been forthcoming since the attacks.

Pakistan cricket in free-fall

If the 26/11 Mumbai Terror attacks robbed fans of India vs Pakistan cricket, then a devastating attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore during the 2009 series resulted in foreign teams not setting foot in the country. On March 1, 2009, the Sri Lankan team made their way to the Gaddafi stadium when 12 gunmen launched a lethal attack on the team bus. Six policemen and two bystanders were killed, as was the driver of a minivan carrying the match officials. Seven members of the Sri Lankan team, the assistant coach, and the reserve umpire were injured.  The incident shocked the world and decimated Pakistan’s reputation, which was on thin ice. 

Foreign teams had feared touring Pakistan due to the volatile situation in the country and in neighbouring Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States of America. In 2002, when New Zealand had toured the country, a suicide bomber killed 14 people, most of them French naval engineers, with a devastating explosion. The team was staying at a hotel across the road and were about to leave for a Test match. None of the players was injured but the tour was immediately cancelled.

This incident was a huge blow and foreign teams flatly refused to tour Pakistan. Due to this terror attack, Pakistan play their matches overseas, mostly in the UAE and it continues even today. Teams like Australia, England, South Africa, India, New Zealand and Bangladesh have not played a series in the country. With terror attacks occurring on a regular basis and the security situation ‘uncertain’, Pakistan lost the chance to host the 2009 Champions Trophy and the 2011 World Cup with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. 

Hope for the future

In 2015, Zimbabwe became the first team to play a series in Pakistan since the attack on the Sri Lanka side. This was followed by a three-match Twenty20 International series against the ICC World XI while Sri Lanka returned for a game in Lahore. West Indies, the two-time World T20 champions, also visited the side but they were without the services of some key players who refused to tour the country. The Pakistan Super League T20 tournament final was held in Lahore with much fanfare. 

However, until India do not play a bilateral series against Pakistan, the cricket team and fans will carry the hurt of the Mumbai Terror attacks for a long time.

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First Published : 26 Nov 2018, 11:40:01 AM