Cricket diplomacy to the fore: BCCI GM Saba Karim and Sharma to visit Maldives

Cricket diplomacy to the fore: BCCI GM Saba Karim and Sharma to visit Maldives

The Indian cricket board will send its top official Saba Karim and India A fielding coach Abhay Sharma on a short-visit to Maldives later this month to take stock of the game in the tiny island nation.

BCCI’s plan to send a team to the South Asian country was set in motion after Maldives president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih attended an IPL game in Bengaluru last month.

It is not a surprise that the Indian government played a major role in arranging the visit by Karim — General Manager (cricket operations) and Sharma. It is not new for the BCCI to help emerging cricketing nations and also India’s traditional allies like Maldives, having supported Afghanistan and Nepal in the past.

Afghanistan, who have now become an established cricketing nation, even have a home ground in Dehradun, India.

“The government asked us to help Maldives cricket and we are happy to do that. The officials will go there and see how best we can contribute to the game’s growth in that country,” a BCCI official told PTI on Friday.

On the sidelines of an IPL game in Bengaluru when Solih was presented jerseys by India’s cricketing icons Virat Kohli and M S Dhoni, IPL COO Hemang Amin and Karim gave had given a presentation to the entire Maldives contingent.

Both Karim and Sharma are expected to fly to Male later this week.

When contacted, Sharma, who is also India’s wicket-keeping coach, said he is yet to get the full details of the trip.

The game in the country is governed by Cricket Board of Maldives, which became a member of the Asian Cricket Council in 1998 and is an affiliate of the International Cricket Council in 1998