Imran Khan, the Pakistan prime minister, issued an extraordinary back-handed compliment to India that is unlikely to increase chances of a detante between the two estranged nations.
The former international all-rounder praised the improved structure that has helped India become a leading cricket nation but went on to claim that his own nation “had more talent”.
“Look at India today, they are becoming a top team in the world because they improved their structure, although we have more talent,” Imran told the media in Islamabad.
“It takes time for a structure to work and polish talent but I am confident our team will become world beaters.”
Imran led Pakistan to their only World Cup triumph, in 1992, when they beat England in the final in Australia.
Not that the former cricketer, who played county cricket for Sussex and Worcestershire, expects to have any personal input in helping his team to the top three in all formats of the game, a position the current coach, Misbah-ul-Haq, said they were targeting after victory in the two-Test series against South Africa.
He said that while he is not able to take time out to watch live cricket matches due to his busy schedule, he is looking forward to seeing the Pakistan team improve their performances.
“Honestly speaking I am not able to spare time for cricket and have not even watched the matches,” he said minutes after Pakistan completed a 2-1 win in the T20 series against South Africa.
There was no immediate response from his Indian counterpart, who was much more interested in watching England flail ineffectively at Ravi Ashwin’s turn and bounce from the skies over Chennai.
Narendra Modi tweeted a shot of the stadium as he took off following a visit to the city during which he signed off on a tanks contract with the Indian army.
“Caught a fleeting view of an interesting Test match in Chennai,” he posted.
Modi is more likely to be in attendance when England and India decamp their bio-secure bubble to Ahmedabad. The rebuilt stadium, which can house 110,000 people – more now than the Melbourne Cricket Ground – was a pet project of the prime minister, so much so that it has been nicknamed the Modi-dome, and the BCCI says it intends to invite him during the day/night Test or the final match of the series.