By: Sarwar Alam
Mohammad Rizwan and Cheteshwar Pujara played for Sussex in the English County Championship on Thursday — a rare example of Pakistani and Indian cricketers turning out for the same team.
India cut bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan after attacks in Mumbai in 2008 that authorities blamed on Pakistani militants and the teams now only play each other in multi-nation events.
The South Asian rivals have not faced each other in a bilateral series since Pakistan toured India in 2012/13 for a set of one-day internationals and Twenty20 matches during a brief thaw in relations.
Pakistan’s stars also do not play in the Indian Premier League, the world’s most high-profile Twenty20 competition, which is currently taking place in India.
But Pakistani wicketkeeper-batsman Rizwan and Indian batsman Pujara were both in the Sussex team for their four-day division two match against Derbyshire in Derby, which started on Thursday.
Sussex signed Pujara as a replacement for Travis Head last month after the Australian asked to be released from his contract due to increased international commitments.
The 34-year-old Indian batsman has scored 6,713 Test runs in 95 Tests at an average of nearly 44.
Rizwan, 29, averages nearly 43 in Test cricket and an eye-catching 50 in the T20 format.
Sussex head coach Ian Salisbury said: “I am extremely excited to be able to bring in players of Rizwan and Pujara’s quality into the side.
“Not only are they absolute world-class cricketers that will boost our performances on the pitch, but to have them around the boys and in the dressing room can only be a positive.”