Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday to wish his cricket team luck in an ice-breaker conversation ahead of a World Cup grudge match between the arch rivals.
Modi said “cricket connects people in our region and promotes goodwill” after speaking with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other South Asian leaders whose country’s teams are playing in the World Cup starting Saturday.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed the Ministry of Water and Power to ensure there is no load shedding in the country during the Pakistan-India cricket match which is scheduled to take place this Sunday.
Modi’s cricket diplomacy comes after relations soured last year between the two nuclear-armed neighbours over increased firing along their borders and cancelled peace talks between their officials.
Modi’s government is seen taking a more assertive stance towards its neighbour since coming to power last May. Modi and Sharif failed to hold a bilateral meeting at a SAARC summit in November.
Modi also took to Twitter to wish his fellow SAARC countries luck in the upcoming cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
An economic and geopolitical organisation of eight countries, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is represented by 5 of the 14 countries participating in the World Cup.
India’s new foreign secretary S Jaishankar will soon visit his South Asian neighbours, Modi also tweeted.
Millions of India and Pakistan fans are expected to watch Sunday’s clash on television, while thousands of others are set to flock to the Adelaide Oval in Australia.
All these five countries – Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan – are vying for the coveted trophy and preparations have been in full swing.