Pakistan news May 30, 2012

Decision on Indo-Pak ties likely in June - Ashraf

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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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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

  • rahulcricket007 on June 1, 2012, 2:27 GMT

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

  • 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?

  • on May 31, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    most eagerly awaited series

  • 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!!

  • 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..

  • g.narsimha on May 31, 2012, 15:56 GMT

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

  • Megauravmishra on May 31, 2012, 14:16 GMT

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

  • 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...

  • 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 .

  • 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

  • rahulcricket007 on June 1, 2012, 2:27 GMT

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

  • 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?

  • on May 31, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    most eagerly awaited series

  • 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!!

  • 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..

  • g.narsimha on May 31, 2012, 15:56 GMT

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

  • Megauravmishra on May 31, 2012, 14:16 GMT

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

  • 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...

  • 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 .

  • rsrinath on May 31, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    Who cares about ASHES when there is an IND-PAK match going on? come on don't post such funny comments supporting ashes...leave ashes there is nothing that can match the excitement and thrill of an india-pakistan match,not only in cricket but in any other sports(say hockey, etc)

  • doctornikki on May 31, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    india-pak series is always the best

  • SasiGladi on May 31, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    Bring it on it will be very exciting...come on Paks bring in your best force especialy your fast bowlers and we have the best force in batting.....Ind vs Pak is the best entertainment I almost lost all the nails when I watched ind vs pak test match in chennai were Sachin played with back pain...

  • ultrasnow on May 31, 2012, 12:16 GMT

    @ skepticaloptimist - I loved the way you out it. All Indo-Pak fans agree would agree.

  • HyderabadiFlick on May 31, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    Indo-Pak 5 Tests,7 ODIs and 3 T20s will be ideal.Ashes is the ultimate test cricketing event, and is better than Indo-Pak test series.Aus-Eng play attacking brand of cricket hence very few draws.But Indo-Pak series will be heavy scoring draws on flat batting tracks.Yes, in ODIs I agree Indo-Pak series are high quality and high intense.Hope this time the series does not stop after a couple of years due to some political tension. Indo-Pak series must be made an yearly event. - Jai Hind

  • AlbertEinstein on May 31, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    In England, cricket is not the number 1 sport, its football. But Ashes makes an exception due to its hype. However its a known fact that in India and Pakistan cricket is the number 1 sport. Additionally, India is the 2nd most populated country in the world while Pakistan is the 6th most populated country in the world. Add to it the massive number of Indo-Pak expats around the world, I wouldn't be surprised to see India Pakistan matches having more followers from outside of these countries than Ashes supporters from all over the world combined............So conclusion: Ashes might be the greatest test match rivalry but India Pakistan would surely be the greatest rivalry.

  • Romenevans on May 31, 2012, 10:19 GMT

    Forget about boring Ashes. Ind Pak series should be names as "The Vengeance" and if that happens, nothing is going to beat it.

  • on May 31, 2012, 10:03 GMT

    I think both sides of people and board official should keep it simple.Game should be played as per sprit of cricket.These will bring both countries together and move forwars for the better of common people.

  • wrenx on May 31, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    @steve19191 Not really sure what you mean by this - it takes some pretty extreme ethno-centricism to assume anyone but Australian and English fans care about the Ashes - none of the other cricketing nations care much for this endless biennial repeat with all its pomp and ceremony, though we get why it's important to Eng & Aus. In sheer weight of numbers, it's not going to match the populations that are passionate about India v Pakistan, though we understand why it doesn't matter all that much to other cricketing countries.

  • on May 31, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    i wish india pakistan series is start immediately please live cricket india pakistan i am waiting

  • on May 31, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    i am waiting for india-pakistan series

  • yorkshirematt on May 31, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    Lots of talk of fierce rivalry between india and pakistan but I think you really have to be from these countries to really appreciate it. I don't have enough knowledge of the political rivalry to really comment. For a purely sporting rivalry you can't beat England v Australia in test cricket

  • skepticaloptimist on May 31, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    It's funny that people are comparing India-Pakistan series with the Ashes. Ashes still retains its charm due to its being the long cherished tradition it is, and now that Australia's domination has finally ended and England have put up a good team, it's no longer a one-sided Pom-mauling vacation it used to be. All that said, even if Indian and Pakistani kids play a hide and seek game and it's televised, the viewership would be orders of magnitudes greater than any Ashes ever played. Admit it: the two countries thrive on this competition and dearly look forward to it. Indo-Pak series are more than sports; they are a non-violent representation of their long lasting social-political problems. The intensity will never be matched my any other sporting event: India vs Pakistan is the pinnacle of sporting wariorship.

  • Aaryabhatta on May 31, 2012, 8:39 GMT

    great news..welcome pak cricket team..good contest

  • Ajay_573 on May 31, 2012, 8:32 GMT

    I just want a INDIA-PAKISTAN series consisting of 3 Tests.5 ODIs and 5 T20s(since the t20 world cup is approaching). The venue would be in India as pakistan have no home. Hope it starts soon i can't wait.

  • AmjadZork on May 31, 2012, 6:40 GMT

    That is lovely news !!!!!!

  • sherishahmir on May 31, 2012, 6:32 GMT

    No doubt the crciket between IndoPak matter a most in cricket and also a important mean to bring people of both nation togeather, we may remember the classic example of indian tour of 2004-05 to Pak, when not the indian team but also the supporters of indian team got unprecendant welcome and host in Pakistan. History tells us is only politics (By Politicains/Miltary People) creates problems between the ties of two countries & people, which should be think and dealt in prudent manner by the intellectuals of both nations in future.

  • on May 31, 2012, 6:21 GMT

    Sometime it seems that both boards deliberately play delay tactics to increase the intensity and interest of cricket lovers to watch ties between these two cricketing nations, any way being a diehard cricket fan and as a Pakistani I would love to watch and enjoy Indo-Pak matches. In my opinion it is much bigger than Ashes not only in term on viewership but also in term of Cricket as in Ashes there is more emphases on test cricket but the series b/w Indo-Pak all formats are watched with equal interest and craze.

  • on May 31, 2012, 6:03 GMT

    Pak-Indo series is far bigger than Ashes even if the Bradmans come back for another go at the Ashes. England Australia can never share the intensity, the rivalry and passion that Pak India have. Can't wait for Pak India series:)

  • Junubi on May 31, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    The ashes and indo-pak series are marquee series in their own right. The ashes is characterised by the aussies' and poms genuine appreciation for test cricket, whereas indo-pak series is a rivalry which stems from separation and conflict. It will be good to see cricket being played between India and Pakistan and hopefully it can act as a bridge to improve relations between the two.

  • on May 31, 2012, 5:07 GMT

    Very good news, but not at the cost of Pakistan Premier League please!

  • Valavan on May 31, 2012, 4:47 GMT

    Wish if Pakistan hosts India for test series, they can follow England and australia way of trapping Indians on green tracks. cricinfo please publish.

  • on May 31, 2012, 4:30 GMT

    Better in Sharjah, never cn Veeru batting there and we all waiting

  • Romenevans on May 31, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    getsetgopk - same goes with pakistan, unless you are expecting Umar akmal and Gul to score hundreds to go pass 300 runs in an innings lol.

  • Romenevans on May 31, 2012, 3:51 GMT

    LOL people comparing ashes to Ind-Pak series? are you serious? India Pak series is miles ahead of ashes in terms of intensity and crowd coverage. Ashes is nothign hardly few millions watch it, and indo-pak is watched by a billion people india, forget about people in pakistan and other countries as well.

  • grizzle on May 31, 2012, 3:21 GMT

    Though as an Indian cricket fan, I think a test series between India and Pakistan would be awesome, I have to agree with Steve. The quality of cricket will be nowhere near that on display in the ashes, especially given the state of test cricket in India at the moment. What we are more likely to see are either high-scoring draws on placid pitches (snore) or Pakistan mauling India.

  • dsig3 on May 31, 2012, 1:10 GMT

    Its silly to debate whether the ashes is bigger. For us westerners its a big deal and I think it would be fantastic if the Ind-Pak can get their equivalent going too. Cricket needs bigger and better series like this rather than quick meaningless games.

  • yorkshirematt on May 31, 2012, 0:40 GMT

    The Ashes is the biggest test series and India-pak in ODI and T20. That is where these countries' priorities lie even though all the indians on here mourn their loss of the test no.1 I'm sure they'd much rather have the world cup.

  • vish2020 on May 30, 2012, 23:23 GMT

    Finally, a man worthy enough to have conversation with. This lallu before Mr. Ashraf I even forgot his name but thank god this guy is in-charge of PCB right now! I can't wait for this series to start! And please don't ruin this rivalry by comparing to Ashes because Ashes is a joke now compare to these two nations. This is a rivalry like no other and can't wait for it to get started #bleedblue

  • Sehwag_Is_Ordinary on May 30, 2012, 22:32 GMT

    Ashes is the best, no other series cant be compared to Ashes

  • Natesan333 on May 30, 2012, 22:10 GMT

    @steve19191 what world are you living in? Pakistan and India could be playing in a street corner and it will be bigger than the ashes. It's indo-pak man, it just doesn't get any bigger.

  • on May 30, 2012, 22:00 GMT

    Steve19191 i'm not sure mate-in terms of a grudge match this is a million miles above the ashes...Bring on the 5 mtch test series ;)

  • Lord_Dravid on May 30, 2012, 21:25 GMT

    lol the ashes compared to ind v pak series? i mean i do watch the ashes ocasionally and definately keep up with the scores but there's nothing like a full fledged ind v pak series.. one only needs to compare the number of people who watch it, and the amount of money that is made through a ind v pak series to know that the ashes dosent even come close.

  • on May 30, 2012, 20:47 GMT

    This is really a great news, fans in India and Pakistan will always be motivated and energized whenever the two boards come to such an agreement. I am Pakistani supporter but have all admired the Indian batting line up which is the key of their success over the years.....Guys, lets get ready for some action between Pakistani bowlers and Indian batsmen, a battle that is much awaited to be witnessed by the fans of the two nations, cheers

  • Syed_imran_abbas on May 30, 2012, 20:40 GMT

    I think they should start with a triangular series. get austrailia into it as third country.

  • nathangonmad on May 30, 2012, 20:35 GMT

    I never understood why Pak/Ind can't have an Ashes style series.

  • StatisticsRocks on May 30, 2012, 20:18 GMT

    @getsetgopk: I don't understand your logic. If we don't have bowlers who cannot take 20 wickets in a test match then we should not be playing test cricket with anyone let alone Pak. Anyways the cricketing ties has to resume if not for anything but for the sake of passionate fans in both the countries.

  • on May 30, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    ITS really good for india to invite a pakistani team to champions league but there is also there own profit in it too by inviting a pakistani team to champions league they are making pakistani people more involved in it and by that their viewership will increase great in numbers.but whatever its pretty good thing,

  • Jamal9 on May 30, 2012, 20:10 GMT

    Steve, It is true the ashes have been going on since 1882 and is a big traditional thing,but let's face it, cricket is a minority sport in England and hardly watched by women, bigger in Australia but their population is only a few million. An India Pakistan series is of interest to well over a billion people and cricket is THE sport in both Pakistan & India. It is bigger than the ashes by miles.

  • IsrarHashmi on May 30, 2012, 20:00 GMT

    Still Remember the 2005 Indo-Pak series , when I used to Bunk the school to watch the Test Matches .... Anxiously waiting for more.

  • getsetgopk on May 30, 2012, 19:56 GMT

    Nah not happening, IPL and CL20 maybe but India will never agree to a test series, they dont have bowlers to take 20 wickets in a test match, unless if they are thinking R Ashwin and Dinda are test material.

  • steve19191 on May 30, 2012, 19:19 GMT

    It would be great to see Pakistan play India once again but to suggest any series between these two fine cricketing nations even comes close to the Ashes is ludicrus in the extreme. The ashes has been and always will be the premier cricketing series.

  • Afridipak on May 30, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    Keep it up !! we need this series and i hope that if one day india can come to Pakistan and can regain cricket in Pakistan and regain a lot of love to pakistani people

  • on May 30, 2012, 18:51 GMT

    good news.........we want some ties b/w pak and ind.

  • Nadeem1976 on May 30, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    I am waiting for that indo-pak series for long long time. There is nothing bigger than indo-pak series in cricket at all. Not even Ashes. I hope Indian govt allow indian team to play with Pakistan and we all can see thrilling matches.

  • Lord_Dravid on May 30, 2012, 17:48 GMT

    i enjoy the hype and tension leading to a ind v pak series..theres nothing like it in the cricket world :) i miss those days debating mathes and series with pakistani class mates and getting into fights lol..im in favour of a pak series as the earliest opportunity!

  • on May 30, 2012, 17:46 GMT

    want it pretty badly..........

  • on May 30, 2012, 17:43 GMT

    Way to go!!! Nothing beats the thrill of India v Pak!!

  • on May 30, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    hopefully india will play a game in pakistan but its unlikely

  • on May 30, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    Great move by BCCI and PCB

  • Indiaforever on May 30, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    Cannot wait for this series!!! Definitely the best thing to happen to cricket in a long time.

  • on May 30, 2012, 16:49 GMT

    Hope this type something positive come up in June meeting and both countries will some type of cricket which may be in the Indian soil.Also we wish any thing wrong will not happens which might sabotage the whole hard work of M.r Ashraf and party.

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  • on May 30, 2012, 16:49 GMT

    Hope this type something positive come up in June meeting and both countries will some type of cricket which may be in the Indian soil.Also we wish any thing wrong will not happens which might sabotage the whole hard work of M.r Ashraf and party.

  • Indiaforever on May 30, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    Cannot wait for this series!!! Definitely the best thing to happen to cricket in a long time.

  • on May 30, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    Great move by BCCI and PCB

  • on May 30, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    hopefully india will play a game in pakistan but its unlikely

  • on May 30, 2012, 17:43 GMT

    Way to go!!! Nothing beats the thrill of India v Pak!!

  • on May 30, 2012, 17:46 GMT

    want it pretty badly..........

  • Lord_Dravid on May 30, 2012, 17:48 GMT

    i enjoy the hype and tension leading to a ind v pak series..theres nothing like it in the cricket world :) i miss those days debating mathes and series with pakistani class mates and getting into fights lol..im in favour of a pak series as the earliest opportunity!

  • Nadeem1976 on May 30, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    I am waiting for that indo-pak series for long long time. There is nothing bigger than indo-pak series in cricket at all. Not even Ashes. I hope Indian govt allow indian team to play with Pakistan and we all can see thrilling matches.

  • on May 30, 2012, 18:51 GMT

    good news.........we want some ties b/w pak and ind.

  • Afridipak on May 30, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    Keep it up !! we need this series and i hope that if one day india can come to Pakistan and can regain cricket in Pakistan and regain a lot of love to pakistani people