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India hat in 2011 Cup ring
- Asian IV in joint bid; Pak offshore games to be revived
Coach Greg Chappell has said captain Rahul Dravid made a “bold statement” by opting to open the innings in the Lahore Test. Chappell hinted that the openers’ slot for the series would be decided on a “match-by-match” basis.

Lahore, Jan. 14: For a change, there’s one Jagmohan Dalmiya initiative which isn’t going to be scuttled because he no longer calls the shots in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Dalmiya’s joint-bid move for the 2011 World Cup by the four Asian Test-playing nations, set in motion last year, has borne fruit. It’s another matter he no longer heads the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and Sharad Pawar will get the kudos if the tournament returns to the region.

That a joint bid is being made was formally announced by ACC (and BCCI) president Pawar this afternoon. It confirmed a June 8 report in The Telegraph which stated that a collective effort was a certainty.

The Big Four ' India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh ' are to give the “expression of intent” to the International Cricket Council by January 21. It’s to be seen whether Australia, too, jumps into the fray.

“Some may be talking in terms of Australia staying away, but Pakistan knows nothing about it. In fact, we would even have known had anything been directly communicated to India,” Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan told this correspondent.

He added: “Indeed, nothing stops Australia from insisting that it stands to be the automatic host if the rotational arrangement is followed'. Whatever, the position is soon going to be known.”

Shaharyar, incidentally, was by Pawar’s side when the joint bid was announced. India and Pakistan were co-hosts in 1987, with Sri Lanka joining them in staging the 1996 edition.

On the bilateral front, India and Pakistan have agreed to play a “full series” every two years on a home-and-away basis. “We’ll be doing what’s done with the Ashes,” Pawar said, adding that a “full series” could feature three Tests and five ODIs.

Additionally, intending to “promote” cricket in regions with a significant population of Indian and Pakistani expats, the boards have decided to play an offshore limited overs series annually. The understanding is for five years and this venture could begin in 2007.

The Toronto experience, in the latter half of the 1990s, had ended rather sourly.

Pawar spoke of “California, New Jersey, Abu Dhabi and Dubai” as possible venues, but quickly added that the modalities were to be “worked out”. Even the number of matches in each series hasn’t been finalised.

More important, given that no officially sanctioned cricket activity is currently on in the US, it’s unclear with whom the boards are going to liase.

Obviously, the two governments will have to approve. That shouldn’t be a problem as the PCB patron is President Pervez Musharraf and Pawar is a powerful Union minister back in India.

New Delhi, however, had banned offshore engagements after the match-fixing scandal in the summer of 2000. The lead had then been taken by sports minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.

But, then, that was a different government.

The boards, by the way, have confirmed that the respective national champions are going to play each other on a home-and-away basis. Ditto for the best U-19 and 17 teams.

Instead of allocating the earnings from any match on the ongoing tour, India and Pakistan have decided to play two ODIs in April (probably in Abu Dhabi or Dubai) to raise funds for the earthquake victims and for the boards themselves.

The first will be the “quake fund-raiser (75 per cent of the earnings for Pakistan, the rest for India), while the second is to improve the finances of the BCCI and the PCB. There’s no stopping making the most from the golden goose.

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