Amid uncertainty over Bangladesh's scheduled tour of Pakistan, it has emerged that the BCB has started taking consent from players to travel to the country. While this is a standard government-mandated procedure for every overseas tour, this is the first concrete sign of preparations for this particular one.
Equally significant is that a Test specialist confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that he had signed up to tour Pakistan; the BCB had earlier said that the national team is unlikely to take part in the Test series - and only play T20Is - and also denied reports that it had offered to play one Test in Pakistan and the other in Bangladesh.
It's understood that the BCB will likely take the final decision after their board meeting on January 12. If the tour does go ahead, the departure date will be January 18, the day after the BPL final. It's also learnt that BCB president Nazmul Hassan will meet some of the team's senior players on Tuesday evening for a final round of discussions on the matter.
There have been question marks around the tour since the BCB said it wanted to split the tour in two legs - it wants to play the T20Is first - but the PCB has been firm in its stance that the series must be played in one go, promising state-level security for the visitors like it did when Sri Lanka toured last month for a two-Test series.
Nizamuddin Chowdhury, the BCB's chief executive, said last week that the BCB wanted the squad to travel for the T20Is first and get a clear idea of the security arrangements. "We want our players, coaching staff and security team to see what it's like, after which we want to decide if we want to play Tests in Pakistan or at a neutral venue," he had said, while Hassan had said earlier that a few senior players had voiced their concerns over touring Pakistan even for the T20Is.
While Sri Lanka's tour to Pakistan was always going to be split in two legs, with an Australia tour thrown in between, the PCB swapped the formats to give Sri Lanka time to think about the Test series after a second-string side toured for the T20Is. The full Test side toured thereafter. But Pakistan's packed schedule may not allow them to split the Bangladesh tour.
The PSL is set to run from February 20 to March 22, after which the PCB will host its domestic one-day competition. Early in the summer, Pakistan will tour the Netherlands and Ireland, followed by an England tour. They then play the Asia Cup in September in preparation for the T20 World Cup.