The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pakistan want first Test in Karachi
- Lahore and Faisalabad other likely venues for three-match series

Islamabad: The Indian team is likely to open its historic tour against Pakistan with a three-day match in Karachi from March 7 after the two cricket boards decided to defer the trip by a few days.

According to the itinerary proposed by the Pakistan Cricket Board, India will play their first Test on Pakistan soil in 14 years at the National Stadium in Karachi.

“Though the itinerary is tentative, it has been decided that the Indians would play the first Test in Karachi followed by Tests in Lahore and Faisalabad,” a board source was quoted as saying in The News.

[A Staff Reporter in Calcutta adds: According to sources, the BCCI has not received any proposal from the PCB regarding the itinerary till late Wednesday night. However as decided earlier, once informed, the Board will forward the itinerary to the Ministry of External Affairs for relevant clearance.]

“The first two one-day Internationals would be held in Lahore followed by matches at Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Karachi,” he said.

The itinerary has already been sent to the BCCI for consideration. Karachi and Peshawar were the two venues which were rejected by South African and New Zealand cricket teams on their tours to Pakistan this season due to security concerns.

But the board official said Karachi had been given special place in the coming series and the Indian team would arrive and exit from this city.

Meanwhile, the row over telecast rights of cricket matches has got murkier with the Pakistan Cricket Board chief Shaharyar Khan terming the present award of contract to a Dubai-based company as “faulty” and inviting fresh tenders for the rights of the India-Pakistan series.

With the upcoming series between the two teams generating a lot of interest and companies coming up with impressive offers to bag telecast rights, Khan said he would issue fresh tenders to all the interested parties for rights to cover the series.

“Yes, international channels are approaching us but you know the PCB had signed a contract with a company,” the PCB chief told local television network GEO.

Khan was referring to an agreement between PCB and Ten Sports for overseas telecast of all matches played in Pakistan under an agreement signed by his predecessor Tauqir Zia.

“I will put in place a transparent system and would invite interested parties for television rights of the series.”

The recent one-day series matches between Pakistan and New Zealand played at home turned out to be a major embarrassment for the PCB as the state television PTV refused to grant up-linking facilities to GEO, which had an agreement with PCB to telecast the matches for domestic audience.

The matter was finally resolved with the intervention of President General Pervez Musharraf.

However, a spokesman for the Dubai-based network was quoted as saying that “the deal is transparent in all respects. We have the deal and we have the rights. However, we are in touch with the PCB and negotiations are on. We are not aware of any change in the said agreement.”

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