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India is afraid of losing to Pakistan: Akram
AFP - 23 August 2001

KARACHI, Aug 23 (AFP) - India's decision to pull out of the Asian Test championship was motivated by fear of losing to arch rival Pakistan rather than political differences, Pakistani veteran Wasim Akram said Thursday.

``I am deeply disappointed over India's refusal to play Pakistan because I was gearing up for the Test in my hometown. I think they are scared of losing against us,'' Akram told AFP.

``India's decision has deprived billions of fans some very competitive cricket.''

``We toured India in 1999 when we received threats and there were pitch-digging incidents but Pakistan has always been positive about playing India,'' said Akram, who captained his country on that tour.

``I don't know why they are so scared of playing us,'' he said, adding he was concerned whether he would ever ``get another go at India or not''.

The left-arm express bowler is fighting to get back into the team after he was left out of the squad preparing for the Asian championship and the home season against New Zealand.

India accuses Pakistan of backing ``cross-border terrorism'' in the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir. Pakistan denies the allegations.

The nuclear rivals have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir, since 1947.

``India thinks that by not playing against Pakistan they can solve the Kashmir issue which is absurd,'' said former Test player Haseeb Ehsan.

``I think Pakistan should not cry over India's refusal because it was on the cards and at present the Indian team is so low on morale that you cannot rule out that their board themselves asked the government to refuse.

Another former Pakistan captain, Intikhab Alam, said India's decision made no sense.

``It's a senseless decision because India is playing all other sports with Pakistan, so why not cricket?'' he said.