COLOMBO - ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat on Monday hoped the high-profile World Cup semi-final between arch-rivals Pakistan and India will build a bridge between the two nations. Title favourites India take on Pakistan at Mohali on Wednesday -- the first meeting between the two teams on Indian soil since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks carried out by Pakistan-based militants. Tickets have been sold out in advance and security ramped up with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani due to watch the match as a guest of Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh. Lorgat believes the match could build a bridge between the two nations who have not played a bilteral series since 2008 attacks.
"Cricket is there to build bridges," said Lorgat. "If it does than it would be a just reward for the beautiful game of cricket." Lorgat said India playing in Pakistan would be massive, irrespective of whether it overshadows the World Cup. "Certain countries, when they play, it's romanticism, it's massive and wherever they play it's big, so we like to see cricket providing that platform to India and Pakistan. "As someone said 'cricket diplomacy is better than no diplomacy'." Cricket diplomacy was first used by former Pakistan President General Zia-ul Haq who toured India mid-way through a Test series in 1987.
General Pervez Musharraf also used cricket diplomacy when he toured India to watch a match in 2005, holding talks on the sidelines of the match. Pakistan and India have fought three wars since their independence from the British rule in 1947. They have endured strained relations since the Mumbai attacks, although there have been efforts to put relations back on track with talks at secretary level.
Haroon Lorgat said the World Cup has removed doubts over the future of the 50-over format of the game. "I am satisfied that we have delivered a successful World Cup and with three matches to go I am confident that any doubts over the future of ODI cricket are now bizarre,"
Lorgat told the The Press Club of Sri Lanka. Since last year there were calls for a major overhaul of the 50-over format which was deemed to be under threat from Twenty20 cricket. But Lorgat said talk of ODIs being in crisis was self-inflicting. "As a game we were self-inflicting a crisis on 50-over cricket. Some great -- and some not so great -- players were questioning the future of 50-over cricket, although there was no evidence of a crisis with stadiums packed," said Lorgat. "The ICC kept an open mind, allowing administrators to explore or experiment," added the ICC chief of the innovations of split innings of 25 overs used in Australia and the introduction of power-plays.