India news June 2, 2014

Laxman, Kirmani call for India-Pakistan series'

At a time when BCCI and PCB have been involved in discussions over the bilateral-series agreements, former players Syed Kirmani and VVS Laxman have said India and Pakistan "must" play each other more often.

Kirmani, who has been involved in numerous India-Pakistan duels in the 1970s and '80s, said India and Pakistan must resume playing each other at neutral venues. "The best thing to start the bilateral relations is to have India-Pakistan play at a neutral place to start with. I think that would be the best idea to go about to having a series with Pakistan. It should be in a neutral place," Kirmani said during a panel discussion during the CEAT awards in Mumbai on Monday, adding that the two boards should start exploring options in Asia.

"It will offer an opportunity if Pakistan and India play in Asian countries where the Asian Cricket Council is trying to promote cricket. It will be a wonderful opportunity for those Asian countries [hosting the series] to see the top two teams of Asia play one another and that would be a source of inspiration."

The BCCI and PCB have been in discussions about playing six series against each other during the eight-year cycle starting after the 2015 World Cup. PCB chief operating officer Subhan Ahmed had said last month that the PCB will get in touch with the BCCI to work towards getting closer to signing bilateral agreements.

With the strained diplomatic relationship between the two countries, India and Pakistan have not played a Test since 2007. Meanwhile, with all the Full Member teams reluctant to tour Pakistan ever since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in March 2009, Pakistan have been playing most of their home series in the UAE.

Citing the response from the fans during the short limited-overs series between the two teams in India in December 2013, Laxman stressed that an India-Pakistan series is "like the Ashes and everyone looks forward to it". He differed with Kirmani's view on the possible venue, saying India and Pakistan should play each other in India.

"When Pakistan came for three one-dayers and two T20s, the crowd really loved it. I don't think any problem would happen. It is like the Ashes and everyone looks forward to the Ashes and the England and Australia rivalry," Laxman said.

"I think this [the India-Pakistan rivalry] is the same, on par with the Ashes. I don't see any problem hosting it in India. I am not sure about Pakistan, though. I know for a fact that since the attack that happened on the Sri Lankan team, a lot of players are apprehensive of going there."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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