Sri Lanka are likely to play the first Test in Pakistan since South Africa's visit in October 2007 © AFP
The PCB has moved on swiftly from the cancellation of India's tour, making an official request to Sri Lanka to visit in India's place while expressing its disappointment at the Indian board's decision.
The BCCI said today that it had received a letter from the government stating that under the current scenario a tour to Pakistan was not feasible, referring to the deterioration in relations between the two countries after the Mumbai attacks.
"We received a note from the BCCI explaining the decision," Saleem Altaf, the PCB's chief operating officer, told Cricinfo. "Obviously we are very disappointed because Pakistan-India is always a major series. They have toured many times since 2004 so it is disappointing that such a major team, with so many superstars, will not be coming."
There had been talk of the series being possibly played at a neutral venue in the Middle East, but that scenario has also been ruled out. "Right now, there is no cricket between the two at neutral venues or anywhere," Altaf said. "We are still on normal terms with the BCCI. This is a decision that was neither in our hands nor theirs."
Though the cancellation is a blow and Pakistan will suffer financially after India's pullout, they are at least likely to have some serious cricket to look forward to during that period. Sri Lanka had already publicly expressed their keenness to tour in India's place and with Pakistan now sending an official invite, only logistics remain to be sorted. "We have officially requested Sri Lanka to tour in place of India," Altaf said. "They had expressed an interest and we are confident the series can go ahead."
TV rights for Sri Lanka's visit will not be as high as that for India - AFP quoted a PCB official as saying the loss from India pulling out would be around $25-30 million - but given that Pakistan have gone over a year without a Test, playing any cricket is currently the key. If Sri Lanka do come, it will be for a series of three Tests, three ODIs and one Twenty20 international. They can only arrive after January 16 for they are on a tour of Bangladesh till then.
The matches are likely to be held in Karachi, Lahore and Multan.