Published September 15, 2013
KARACHI (AFP) – Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq said on Sunday he hoped India's decision to allow local team Faisalabad to play on Indian soil will open up more cricket opportunities between the two nations.
Misbah will lead Pakistan's domestic Twenty20 champions Faisalabad in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League starting in the Indian town of Mohali on Tuesday after New Delhi cleared the tour.
India had stalled all bilateral cricket with Pakistan in the wake of 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai and -- with the exception of a short tour by Pakistan late last year -- there have been no signs of full series revival amid heightened tensions between the two countries.
But Misbah said matches between the two cricket-obsessed nations should not be halted by politics.
"I feel cricket must go on," Misbah told AFP on phone from Harare, Zimbabwe. "Giving a Pakistani team clearance is a positive sign and I hope this will help open more doors for Indo-Pak cricket."
Pakistan humiliatingly lost the second Test in Harare on Saturday to level the two-match series at 1-1. Misbah will join the rest of the Faisalabad squad in India later on Sunday.
Despite the tensions between India and Pakistan, Misbah said people on both sides of the border enjoy cricket.
"It is a fact that people of both the countries enjoy Indo-Pak cricket and it is necessary for both the countries to have regular exchange of cricket tours because it minimises tensions and brings people together," said Misbah.
Misbah denied players would be scared by recent tensions, sparked by a string of recent clashes in the disputed Kashmir region.
"When we play cricket, people forget everything," he said. "We never expect and never fear any aggression. I am going to India with an open mind, with a message of friendship and peace, as always."