KARACHI - The marquee clash of the 2019 World Cup between Pakistan and India will take place on June 16 in Manchester.

The match between the arch-rivals is considered to be the best during any tournament and the International Cricket Council (ICC) mostly pits them together in any tournament. Case in point is the 2017 Champions Trophy where both teams played their first group match against each other, which Pakistan lost to India.

However, Pakistan came back strong after the opening loss to avenge their defeat at the grandest stage of them all — the final — where they came out victors courtesy Fakhar Zaman’s century and Pakistani bowlers unprecedented show with the ball.

The match holds importance for other reasons as the two nations aren’t playing any bilateral cricket outside the ICC tournaments due to political tensions. The 2019 50-over World Cup in scheduled to take place in England and Wales, with 10 teams participating in it.

It would be the first time the match between the two arch-rivals would not be a starter in the tournament that started on June 2. The tournament is being played on round robin basis like 19992 with all teams playing each other. However, not even a single series has materialised after Indian government refused to give a green signal to the board to play against Pakistan.

India and Pakistan have not played a bilateral series since 2012-13, even though both teams were scheduled to play eight series from 2015-2023 under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which was signed at the time of the formation of the Big Three. As a result, the PCB lodged a $70 million claim of damages with the International Cricket Council (ICC) against BCCI for not honouring the MoU. The ICC formed a three-member panel to settle the dispute, which will decide the case in October this year.

Pakistan is also optimistic to host India for a full series in UAE in 2019 as PCB’s chairman Najam Sethi believes the ball is in the court of the BCCI for the resumption of cricketing ties between the arch-rivals.

Sethi, who is currently in India for ICC’s Annual General Meeting, was quoted by the Press Trust of Indi as saying: “India and Pakistan need to play each other for the sake of the people of the sub-continent, but the ball is in BCCI’s court. We hope sooner rather than later sense will prevail and the two sides can get back to playing good cricket again.”

He continued by saying he can’t reveal the proceedings of the ICC’s dispute resolution tribunal. “I’m not at liberty to discuss the issue as per the orders of the tribunal.”

Sethialso showed his surprise on the unassertive role of Indian media regarding cricketing ties between both countries.  “I’m just surprised that there’s not sufficient media pressure here in India for resumption of cricketing ties with Pakistan,” he said. “I am sure the fans want to see cricket between the two countries. There’s a lot of goodwill on both sides so let’s hope that the issue can be resolved in the interest of the fans. There’s no rough weather between the two Boards. There’s no problem at all.”

Talking about resumption of cricket in Pakistan, Sethi believes a lot more has to be done. “It’s unfortunate that given a situation — a hangover from the past (2009 terrorist attack) we are still unable to play all our matches,” he said. “The Pakistan Super League (PSL) is very popular at home. It receives the highest possible ratings ever in the history of Pakistan TV and broadcast medium. Our effort is to bring PSL back to Pakistan so that we can play all our matches at home, but we are taking small steps as we are hoping that bilateral cricket will also come back to Pakistan. Another important step in this direction is that the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) has just agreed that the Emerging Asia Cup will be played partly in Pakistan and partly in Sri Lanka. We are just hoping that everything returns to normalcy between India and Pakistan.”

In the ICC’s annual meeting, one of the top agenda is to control players’ behaviour in the wake of spot-fixing scandal during the third Test between South Africa and Australia, and Sethi believes it is a step in the right direction.

“Cheating of any sort should be looked down upon. Strict measures should be taken to punish those indulging in cheating,” said Sethi. “Match-fixing, spot-fixing, ball-tampering are all instances of cheating. We should have very strict punishments for these. Therefore now the ICC should be taking strong measures against it. The current PCB takes a very dim view of any cheating, match-fixing and spot-fixing. We have already punished two or three players very severely. We take a very strong view. I hope and expect all other Boards will also strong view of such instances.”