Colombo: The ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said that the World Cup semi-final clash between India and Pakistan would help in building bridge between the two countries who have not played a bilateral series since the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.
India will lock horns with Pakistan in the second semi-final of the World Cup at Mohali on Wednesday and the match has already generated huge hype with Prime Ministers of both the countries set to watch the encounter.
"Cricket is there to build bridges. If it does than it would be a just reward for the beautiful game of cricket," Lorgat told reporters here ahead of first semifinal between Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
"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," he added. Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Giliani will be present at the PCA stadium on Wednesday as a special invitee of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Lorgat welcomed the gesture, saying, "As someone said `cricket diplomacy is better than no diplomacy`." He also said that the success of the ongoing World Cup has erased fears about the future of one-day cricket, which was deemed to be under threat with the advent of Twenty20 format.
"I am satisfied 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 said.
"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. "The ICC kept an open mind, allowing administrators to explore or experiment. As the governing body we conducted a survey of 676 million people in five markets -- England, New Zealand, India, South Africa and Bangladesh which showed there was not just an interest but a passion for ODIs," he said.
He also expressed hope that the proposed ODI league starting later this year would generate more interest in the 50-over format. "Clearly, everything was not well and there were signs of apprehension, so an ODI league has been planned which would be popular across all markets," said Lorgat.
"What we probably need to be focusing on is the context in which ODIs are being played and the content and if we get those two issues right it would increase the popularity.”
"An ICC team was given the task to put forward plans for the context and content and after 18 months the ICC Board approved the new principles for a strategic restructure of international cricket," he added.