BARAMULLA -  Former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has said that as Pakistan-India cricket match is more than a sport to the country, the government should have the final say on bilateral series.

Dhoni , during a visit to Baramulla, said: “When we talk about cricket, in most people’s opinion it is a sport , but when it comes to India and Pakistan series, it is much more than that. It is also a diplomatic and political decision.” Referring to the saying that ‘sports and politics should be kept separated’, the 36-year-old added that whenever the team plays a bilateral series, it generates a lot of money, which eventually flows in the economy of the country and thus it makes cricket more than a sport .

He said: “Saying that it is just cricket is wrong, as it also has an impact on the Indian economy. So, coming to a conclusion on Pakistan-India series is a big decision which should be left to the government.” India has not been involved in any bilateral series with the neighbouring country since the 2012-13 limited-overs series which comprised two Twenty20 internationals and three ODIs in India.

In June 2014, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during the ICC annual conference in Melbourne to play six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023. However, the series never commenced in the wake of political tensions between the two countries. But, as per the International Cricket Council (ICC) Future Tours Programme, each of its member countries has to play at least once against each other. If India don’t play Pakistan , it will eventually lose point to the rival country.