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Decision on Indo-Pak ties likely in June - Ashraf

Sharda Ugra

May 30, 2012

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Zaka Ashraf, the new PCB chairman
Zaka Ashraf: "I found that everybody in India has got good feelings about Pakistan and they all want cricket to resume between the two." © Associated Press
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The ICC's annual conference in Kuala Lumpur in June is where India and Pakistan could take significant steps towards the resumption of cricketing ties, with even the possibility of the announcement of a series, according to PCB chief Zaka Ashraf.

Ashraf is in Delhi for a few days after attending the IPL final (to which he was invited by the BCCI) in Chennai, and he told ESPNcricinfo, "Probably the final decision will be [taken] in Kuala Lumpur, where the ICC board of directors meeting will be held. There Mr Srinivasan and I will hold discussions, and maybe we will be able to formulate and announce something about the resumption of ties."

He denied that the two parties had already discussed or suggested a tentative schedule for a bilateral series during a gap in England's winter tour of India, when the England team will return home for a Christmas break. "The BCCI haven't conveyed that to us. What we see on the calendar is that the English team will continue to play matches. But that is now up to the BCCI, the ball is in their court. They have to think which slab is available, where there is a vacuum during which both of us can play. What we can play, what format … they have to take steps and let us know."

During his stay in Delhi on what was his first visit to India, Ashraf said he had met with the Pakistani high commissioner to India, Salman Bashir, and political leaders of several parties, ruling and opposition, whose names he did not wish to reveal.

India and Pakistan have not played each other in a bilateral series since December 2007. It is India's turn to tour Pakistan, but the country has not hosted an international series between two Full Members at home following the Lahore terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team bus in March 2009. Bilateral ties between India and Pakistan have been frozen since the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Pakistan, however, travelled to India to play in the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup.

On the day that an unofficial lunch meeting took place between Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari in April, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla had told Pakistani channel Geo TV that the participation of Pakistan players in the IPL would depend on bilateral ties between the two nations.

Ashraf said his discussions with BCCI president N Srinivasan had not touched upon the participation of Pakistan players in the IPL much. "I didn't discuss the IPL, because it was more of a commercial thing. I was talking to the BCCI more on the revival of cricketing relations - on bilateral ties, because that is more important. If they feel like inviting Pakistani players [to the IPL], it is up to them. If they want to, I think that will be a good move also."

The participation of the Sialkot Stallions in the Champions League T20 was however confirmed by Ashraf. News of the decision to invite the team from Pakistan to the most lucrative club competition in world cricket was released on Twitter by Sundar Raman, a member of the CLT20 technical committee, but it is yet to be formally announced. Similarly Raman announced on Twitter that the dates for the Champions League T20 would only be released by the end of June. Ashraf, who had talked about the resumption of ties with Srinivasan on the side of ICC meetings in Dubai, said he had been asked for his approval for the Sialkot Stallions not once but twice by Srinivasan.

"He called me once from India about 15-20 days ago to discuss the Champions League T20, saying the issue [of Pakistani participation] has come to the board and 'if we decide in favour of Pakistan do you have any objection'. And I said no, of course not, I am always in favour of ties. So after the meeting he called me and said 'I'm going to the press to announce it. Finally I just want to ask, I hope you don't any objections'. I said our board and our people are also for the revival of ties of cricketing relations, Test series, one-day and Twenty20 games." Ashraf said the news of the invitation extended to the Sialkot Stallions had been welcomed "in the press, by the general public and the board. At least the ice is melting. And things are moving in the right direction."

The meeting between the Indian prime minister and the Pakistani president had been important, because it indicated that the Indian government had no objections to the resumption of cricketing between the two countries. "What I understand is that, again, the honourable president of Pakistan requested that the honourable prime minister of India do something, so that India-Pakistan cricket could be revived. He [the Indian prime minister] said, 'Yes, I'm for it, the government has no objection and we are going to convey it to the [Indian] board. The board should decide the other questions … when and where they should play, because those are the nitty-gritty details.' "

Ashraf said that he had kept aside an extra day after the IPL final to have an extended meeting with Srinivasan. However, the extended meetings could not take place because Srinivasan had to be admitted to hospital during the IPL final for observation. "He never used to smile, but he was smiling then [when Ashraf visited him in hospital]," Ashraf joked. "He was very happy that I went. That showed that brotherly relations between the boards are developing."

He came across goodwill in general, he said, on his visit to India. "I found that everybody in India has got good feelings about Pakistan and they all want cricket to resume between these two great cricketing nations. There's great cricket passion in India, like there is in Pakistan. I brought with me, to the people of India and Indian cricket fans, the warmth and feelings of Pakistani cricket fans. This visit is like a friendship message from both the nations to each other."

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (June 2, 2012, 13:05 GMT)

i think that ind vs pak match is always fun i think that this is the team they should go with sehawg / sachin /gambhir /kohli/ rohit /raina / dhoni / ashwin/ khan/yadav /Aaron

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (June 1, 2012, 2:27 GMT)

even a gully cricket match b/w india -pak will attract more viwers than ashes .

Posted by maddy20 on (May 31, 2012, 23:07 GMT)

Instead of sneeaking something in the break during England series, they should look to host a full series after the OZ tour to India. 3 tests ,3 ODIs and 1T20 or something like that. Or they can just play a single game in the break to kickstart the resumption of bilateral cricketing ties and a full series can be played later like I said.

@getsetgopk You mean the same great bowling attack that was brutalised by a 20-year old going by the name Virat Kohli in Dhaka?

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 18:18 GMT)

most eagerly awaited series

Posted by Tokai69 on (May 31, 2012, 17:15 GMT)

Good to see that India starts looking to accommodate their close neighbors than occupying their schedules by distant cousins! Eagerly Looking for this series!!

Posted by   on (May 31, 2012, 16:53 GMT)

Why not hold series in UAE or England where people from both sides can attend for matches to support their beloved teams..its India's turn to tour pakistan..and we all they will not tour pakistan so therefore both sides should agree on playing where they can get supporters from both sides this time :) cheers..

Posted by g.narsimha on (May 31, 2012, 15:56 GMT)

getsetgopak YAA we all seen great bowling in DHAKAA cant defend 330

Posted by Megauravmishra on (May 31, 2012, 14:16 GMT)

I cant wait for indo-pak cricket. Bring it on.

Posted by teamxxx on (May 31, 2012, 14:02 GMT)

well surely every body is waiting for the Clash OF the Titans.The two giants of Asian cricket,The world of cricket is really missing the flavor of Ind o Pak ties.we all know that the match of the decade was the semi final between India n Pakistan,since then its all boring contests teams winning convincingly 3-0.4-0,even the Ashes was so boring that its TV viewership drop down exceptionally,so for the development of cricket in ASIA, these two teams should contest,coz its not only a contest but also it is about holding your nerves.so i m waiting for a decision...

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (May 31, 2012, 13:18 GMT)

TO ALL ENGLISH FANS , have you ever seen 100000 supporters watching an ashes test match on ground ? nopes , never . but i have seen them many times in india - pak matches . even in test matches . india -pak series much , much , much greater than ashes rivalry . you can take it by the example of 2010 t20 wc final where aus & eng played but no body looks interested in it & if you can see the 2007 t20 wc final when india -pak meet , every commentator even english commentators like david lyod , hussain were pumped . there was an amazing atmosphere at wanderers . even fans of sa , aus , eng were present on that day . this is the passion of an india -pak match which can't be matched in the world . mostly ashes series have been boring to watch , only the 2005 ashes series came close to match an india -pak contest .

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