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For Harbhajan Singh and Mohammad Azharuddin, country comes ahead of World Cup

"Does the country come first or does India come first?"- Harbhajan.

Mohammad Azharuddin
Mohammad Azharuddin. (Photo By Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

India and Pakistan are scheduled to lock horns in the upcoming edition of the World Cup, which is set to start on Thursday, May 30. The arch-rivals are set to cross swords on Sunday, June 16 at the Old Trafford in Manchester. However, the marquee contest is under the clouds following the attacks in Pulwama, a district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, on February 14.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is looking forward to having a chat with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), regarding the World Cup match at the ICC quarterly meeting, which is expected to be held in Dubai from Wednesday, February 27 and Saturday, March 2.

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We have to stand united with the country

In the meantime, Indian off-break Harbhajan Singh believes that not playing the WC match against Pakistan won’t matter much and the game isn’t bigger than the country. Moreover, he talked about standing united as a nation after 40 people lost their lives in the terrorist attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad.

“The simple thing is.. what’s more important? Does the country come first or does India come first? Keep sports aside. World Cup is very small when it comes to the country. 40 people who have lost their lives. Who is going to pay for that? We have to stand united with the country. Even if we don’t play the 2019 World Cup, it won’t matter,” Harbhajan was quoted as saying in Aaj Talk.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Azharuddin, who led the Indian team in the 1999 World Cup, reverberated Harbhajan’s words. “If we are not playing Pakistan in bilateral series, we should not play them anywhere. I agree with Harbhajan, the World Cup cannot be bigger than the country,” Azharuddin said.

Azharuddin also went down the memory lane and talked about the Indo-Pak match that took place in the CWC 1999 amidst the tensions of the Kargil War. “There was tension…there was the war on. We were scared the spectators would start fighting. When we won, the soldiers celebrated. If you play Pakistan, play everywhere. Otherwise, don’t play them anywhere. ICC and BCCI should resolve this quickly,” he added.

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