Former captain MS Dhoni said on Sunday, November 26 that the decision on resumption of bilateral cricket ties between India and Pakistan should be left to the government. He added that the issue should not be seen as "just cricket" but as "diplomatic" and "political".
Despite meeting in International Cricket Council (ICC) tournaments, India and Pakistan have not played any bilateral cricket series since 2012-13 season due to political tension between the two neighbours. The two teams though were supposed to play six bilateral series (in home and away format) between 2015 and 2023.
"When it comes to India-Pakistan cricket, it is not just sports, but becomes much bigger than that. It is not a simple decision, but a diplomatic and a political decision," Dhoni, who was the chief guest at an Indian Army-sponsored cricket tournament in north Kashmir, said.
He added: "So, it is a big decision and I think we should leave it to the government to decide. If the government decides, we will go and play and if they decide against it, we will play some other series.
Scintillating Cricket match between teams of North and South Kashmir at Kunzer Cricket Ground with Cricketing legend #msdhoni as the Chief Guest left an indelible mark in the cricketing history of the Valley.@NorthernComd_IA @adgpi @msdhoni pic.twitter.com/bfyf8Q7Xvm— ChinarCorps.IA (@Chinarcorps_IA) November 26, 2017
"It's not just cricket and to say that it's just cricket, would be wrong. It is much more than that and it impacts economy a lot," said Dhoni.
"It is said that sports should be kept away from politics, but when it comes to cricket and involvement of Indian cricket team - be it a bilateral series or any big tournament - it is not just cricket because wherever we go to play, we generate a lot of money and ultimately that money flows into the economy."
However, India have been adamant about not playing Pakistan in bilateral series. Efforts from former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Shashank Manohar to begin talks with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) failed after fringe groups protested against resumption of cricket.
Former BCCI boss and ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Anurag Thakur had also insisted that there was no question of playing cricket with Pakistan, who according to him, were "sponsors of terrorism".