New Delhi: As Indian blind cricket team led by Sekhar Naik Lachma embarks on a 12-day tour to Pakistan from Wednesday, former sports minister and senior congress leader Oscar Fernandes on Tuesday said the move will help in improving the relationship between the two nations.
India severed all sporting ties with Pakistan after the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 but the former minister felt that the blind cricket team`s visit to the troubled nation will be seen as an inspiration for others to follow.
"We have broken the ice at the government level, this series will add to that," Fernandes said.
India will play three Twenty20 matches and an equal number of ODIs with Pakistan at Lahore, starting November 18.
Announcing a 16-member team for the tournament, general secretary of the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) G K Mahantesh said the relations between the two nations are starting to improve particularly after the recent summit level talks at Maldives.
"There is lot of similarity between Indian and Pakistani team, we are like best friends and we want to compete together. Relations are becoming after the recent Maldives summit and I hope the tournament will also inspire the mainstream team to restart the cricketing ties," said Mahantesh.
Mahantesh revealed that it will take around Rs four lakhs to organise the entire tournament and added that the major chuck will come from the Bangalore based NGO, Samarthanam Trust for the disabled.
Fernandes, meanwhile, sanctioned a sum of Rs 10 lakh for the team from the MP`s development fund and ensured that he will take up the matter with the sports ministry.
Earlier president of the CABI, S P Nagesh briefed the media about holding the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup for the blind in India in December 2012 and requested Fernandes to become the chief patron of the organising committee.
He also revealed that it will take around Rs four crore to organise the 10-nation tournament.
1st T20 - Nov 18 Lahore
2nd T20 - Nov 19 Lahore
3rd T20 - Nov 20 Lahore
1st ODI - Nov 22 Islamabad
2nd ODI - Nov 24 Islamabad
3rd ODI - Nov 26 Islamabad
Squad: Sekhar Naik Lachma (captain), Ganeshbhai Narayanbhai Bhusara, Sukhram Majhi, Balmukanda Chaturvedi, Hanuman Pooniya, Dunna Venkatesh, Prakasha Jayaramaiah, Pankaj Bhue, Hiteshbhai Gamanbhai Patel, Manvendra Singh Patwal, Simson Pushparaj, Mohammed Zafar Iqbal, Vikas Patel, Ketanbhai Babubhai Patel, Mahender Vaishnav, Subash Bhoya.