In the world of cricket India is a bully, and Pakistan their only opposition

Massive economic potential is being wasted only because both India and Pakistan have highly politicised cricket boards

The crassness with which the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) makes world cricket dance to its tune is matched only by the complete deference of other cricket boards. 

The recent announcement that a Super Four game between India and Pakistan in the ongoing Asia Cup would have a reserve day has made a complete mockery of any semblance of equality in world cricket. For the reader unaware of how cricket tournaments work, this gives an undue advantage to both India and Pakistan in the tournament. 

Reserve days as a concept in cricket are only ever used for big matches such as world cup finals. So why is a reserve day being set for a group stage encounter in a tournament not half the size of the world cup? Mostly because no matter where in the world it happens or under what circumstance a clash between India and Pakistan is the most watched event in the world. 

With billions of people regularly tuning in to watch the high-voltage encounters the sheer economic power of this rivalry is massive. Yet this potential is ridiculously ignored only because of the BCCI’s continued insistence on politicising cricket and punishing Pakistan for the antagonism in foreign relations between the two countries. 

Just look at the ruckus created by the BCCI around the Asia Cup even before it began. Pakistan was supposed to host this year’s Asia Cup under a tournament hosting rights division drawn up by the International Cricket Council. This would be the first major tournament hosted in Pakistan in decades and would bring significant broadcasting and marketing money for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

But the BCCI’s secretary Jay Shah, also the son of India’s home minister and Prime Minister Modi’s right-hand man Amit Shah, was more than happy to play spoilsport and announced India would not be travelling to Pakistan for the Asia Cup in 2023. Normally you’d think the country with the hosting rights would give this a “fine-by-us” and continue making arrangements. In fact if it had been Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or even Sri Lanka throwing a tantrum of this nature, the PCB would have snubbed them back. 

But in the world of cricket India gets what India wants because it controls the pursestrings. With a cricket economy worth tens of billions of dollars (only the broadcasting and media rights for the IPL were worth more than $6 billion) the BCCI is more powerful than the entire ICC combined. Thanks to this financial muscle, almost every cricket board in the world, including other big fish like England, Australia, and South Africa, depend heavily on the rich spoils that they get from bilateral series with India.

Since consolidating its position as head honcho of the cricket world over the past 16 years, India has gone on a concentrated effort to strengthen its relationships with other big boards such as Australia and England and systematically turn Pakistan into a pariah. The last time the two neighbours played a test series was in December 2007 in India. Since then, other than one short-format bilateral series hosted by India in 2012, the two arch-rivals have exclusively faced off in larger tournaments such as the cricket world cup. Pakistan’s players have also been excluded from the IPL since at least 2010 after the Mumbai Attacks. 

Despite this, Pakistan cricket has persisted. Successive PCB administrations have managed to galvanise efforts like the Pakistan Super League, earn profits, and easily become one of the biggest boards in world cricket after India, England, and Australia. The biggest element in this has been the HBL Pakistan Super League which has been a great economic success but has also helped bring cricket back to Pakistan after the disastrous attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009. Since the beginning of the tournament South Africa, New Zealand, England, and Australia have all toured Pakistan as well. 

The PCB has proven, not by any virtue of their own vision but simply out of necessity, that it is possible to not just survive but thrive without the BCCI. At the same time other boards have stayed quiet over the injustices and regular snubs suffered by Pakistan because they have been surviving off the scraps of Indian cricket. Pakistan had no choice but to exert its independence and it has managed to do so with aplomb. And that is why with India pulling out of the Asia Cup that was supposed to happen in Pakistan next year is not as big of a deal financially as one might have thought initially. Yes, the ugliness of politics entering the game is always a bitter sight, but it is not the end of the world.

Despite this resilience it is important to acknowledge that Pakistan cricket has suffered from this pariah status. The reason behind this has obviously been the antagonism of the Indian Cricket Board but Pakistan has also rarely made a good case for itself. There has been a particular lack of effective leadership because the PCB is run from the sidelines by the country’s political leadership. 

The PCB has tried to modernise as an organisation but this process has been hampered by the fact that the Prime Minister remains the patron-in-chief of the board and appoints its chairman. Quick changes in leadership have all meant Pakistan has failed to appeal to the rest of the international cricket community. Remember, it was Najam Sethi who negotiated the current Asia Cup cycle and he was out of office by the time the tournament started leaving Zaka Ashraf to manage the fallout. 

India too is a politicised cricket board. Jay Shah is the son of Amit Shah who is the right hand man of Prime Minister Modi and often his vocal attack dog. Jay Shah’s provocative statements have also been political in nature. Ideally cricket boards should be separate from the government and have the involvement of players’ unions. The Pakistan-India cricket rivalry holds great potential for both countries to make money. But until the politics are set aside there is little hope of recovery.

The Editorial Board
The Editorial Board
THE PROFIT EDITORIAL BOARD is made up of opinion journalists who rely on research, debate and individual expertise to reach a shared view on important issues. The board does not speak for the newsroom or the publication as a whole.


  1. “Watching India and Pakistan face off on the cricket pitch is like witnessing a timeless rivalry come to life. The intensity and passion these teams bring to the game make it a thrilling spectacle. Cricket’s greatest drama unfolds when these two giants clash!”

  2. “As a cricket enthusiast, it’s fascinating to witness the intense rivalry between India and Pakistan. The fierce competition between these two teams adds an electrifying element to the sport, making every match a must-watch event. Cricket truly unites nations in a unique way!”


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