Calcutta/Lahore: The cricket contest which is the most popular (nowadays, it is the rarest as well) among the fans of the subcontinent is likely to return to action soon as the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Zaka Ashraf, has said that there is a great possibility of Pakistan touring India for a one-off match this year.
Ashraf, who returned to Lahore after a week-long visit to India, said he wanted to develop a kind of relationship with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) which would enable Pakistan to tour India in the future instead of playing their matches at neutral venues.
“We want to establish exemplary relations with the Indian Board,” Ashraf was quoted as saying by a Pakistan daily.
Ashraf, who held meetings with BCCI officials during his visit to India, said that due to the hectic international calendar of both the teams, it didn’t appear possible to have a full bilateral series this year.
“Hopefully, within this month we could be in a position to announce the date for a one-off bilateral match that Pakistan will go and play in India,” he said.
It was in December last year that The Telegraph had reported that India may host Pakistan this year. Two senior officials of the BCCI had been given the “responsibility” of speaking to the government regarding the matter.
The PCB has been striving to convince the BCCI to restore bilateral cricketing ties that were discontinued after the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.
Recently, the BCCI gave indications of wanting to break the ice when it announced that Pakistan’s national T20 champions, Sialkot Stallions, would be invited to play in this year’s Champions League T20.
The BCCI had also invited Ashraf and chief operating officer, Subhan Ahmed, to visit India for the IPL final.
“It is not possible to have a full series this year but we definitely want things to move forward so we will go and play a one-off game in India this year. In this connection, we have had successful talks with the BCCI officials.
“I feel even one match would be enough to convey the message that we have revived and normalised bilateral cricket ties,” said Ashraf.
The PCB chief said he expected dates to be finalised during the ICC meeting in Kuala Lumpur and described his meetings with the Indian cricket officials and politicians very positive.
“The feeling I got while in India and from interacting with the people is that even they want to see regular cricket matches between the two teams and that is a very good sign for us,” said Ashraf.
Cricketers, past and present, from both the countries have spoken on the matter in recent times and all of them have given their thumbs up to the resumption of bilateral ties.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had welcomed the idea of restoring India-Pakistan bilateral series saying that it would be great to play against the neighbours.
“I have heard talks about India-Pakistan series… It would be great if we play against Pakistan. I see nothing wrong in it as matches between the two nations always generate interest... I am not sure when the series would be scheduled, but it is a welcome idea,” he said.
Pakistan’s Test and one-day captain Misbah-ul Haq, on the other hand, had called for a quick revival of matches against India, saying that fans were keen to see the teams play.
“It is very important that we have a quick revival of Indo-Pak cricket, because fans desperately want to see both countries play,” Misbah said.
Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram had said that the Sialkot Stallions’ participation in Champions League T20 will “set the ball rolling” for the resumption of bilateral cricket ties.
“Knowing the kind of talent in Pakistan, and especially in Sialkot, Indian fans will now enjoy watching their style of play. I think Sialkot’s participation is crucial to future bilateral ties (between India and Pakistan),” Akram had said.
“I hope Sialkot’s participation will set the ball rolling. It will have a great effect on the trust levels between the two nations,” the fast-bowling legend had added.