March 20, 2000

Asif Iqbal requests BCCI to send Indian team to Pakistan

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The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been requested to send a cricket team to tour Pakistan early next year. The request has come from none other than Asif Iqbal, the CBFS co-ordinator. The former Pakistan captain does not hold any high level post in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). However, he is a very influential figure in the International Cricket Council and has been recently made one of the ICC Ambassadors).

In a written reply from Sharjah to a query made by this correspondent, Asif stated, "I have already requested the BCCI authorities to send the Indian cricket team to Pakistan". In a PTV interview also, Asif stated, "I assure you that the people of Pakistan will welcome the Indian cricketers. The Indian fans showed great love and respect to them (when Pakistan toured India last year). The Indian team would get ten times more affection when they come to Pakistan".

The PCB is also believed to have sounded the ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya on the subject. "The PCB chairman Tauqir Zia has informed Mr. Dalmiya that the Indians must come as per the schedule early next year, as a cricket tour can play a vital role in normalising ties between the two countries" informs a source.

However, according to a BCCI functionary, the tour is not likely to come through. "We need government approval for such tours and considering the tense situation existing between the two countries, the Board is not likely to get the green signal".

India last toured Pakistan for a Test series when K Srikkanth was captain in 1989-90, though India played three One Day series in 1997-98 (after the Sahara Cup in Toronto). The Pakistan team last toured India in early 1999 for a two match Test series and the Asian Test championship.

The PCB is likely to check with the ICC which teams are available to tour Pakistan, if the BCCI doesnt respond to the invitation. The PCB may plan to host a triangular one-day series (with South Africa and another country to be decided) in January-February 2001.