Misbah concerned by anti-Pakistan protests in Mumbai

“As cricketers we want to play each other, and we don’t want any sort of politics involved in this sport” – Misbah-ul-Haq © Getty Images

has expressed concerns following the recent anti-Pakistan protests in Mumbai, because Pakistan are scheduled to travel to India for the World T20 in March 2016.

The scheduled meeting between BCCI president Shashank Manohar and PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan on Monday to discuss the proposed India-Pakistan series was disrupted by a group of 50 workers from regional political party Shiv Sena, who stormed the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai, shouted anti-Pakistan slogans and demanded the cancellation of the proposed series.

Following the protests, the ICC withdrew Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar from the remaining two ODIs between India and South Africa, while Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar, who are in India as part of the Star Sports commentary team, are also returning to Pakistan after the fourth ODI in Chennai.

Misbah, the Pakistan Test captain, said he was disappointed with political interference in sporting activity. “It’s always disappointing,” he said in Dubai. “It’s not just about India-Pakistan; wherever it happens it is disappointing. I believe politics should be separate from sports. Otherwise it’s really difficult for all nations that are playing the game and we all should play each other.

“When Australia didn’t tour Bangladesh recently that was disappointing as well,” Misbah said. “As cricketers we want to play each other, and we don’t want any sort of politics involved in this sport.”

Pakistan have no intention of pulling out from the World T20 in India, which will be played at eight venues including Mumbai, but Misbah spoke of strong concerns about playing in India amid political tension. “These are the big concerns,” Misbah said, referring to the protests.

“Obviously when these sort of things happen, that really puts something in your mind. I don’t know what is going to happen but obviously these are the big concerns. You don’t want to restrict yourself not to play here and there. We really want to play everywhere and enjoy the game.”

This is not the first time Pakistan have expressed such concerns. The Pakistan women’s team was forced to play their 2013 World Cup group matches in Cuttack, following threats from political activists in Mumbai.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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