India and Pakistan will resume bilateral ties with a "short series", comprising three ODIs and two Twenty20 internationals, in December and January. The matches will be held between the Test and one-day legs of England's tour of India and will form the first bilateral series between the two sides since Pakistan toured India in end-2007.
The decision was taken by the BCCI at its working committee meeting on Monday. Rajiv Shukla, a senior BCCI official, said the plan was to hold the three ODIs in Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata, and the Twenty20 matches in Ahmedabad and Bangalore.
"The BCCI was firm that no India-Pakistan series will be held at a neutral venue so it was decided to invite them [Pakistan] after December 22 when the England team leaves after playing the Twenty20 Internationals," Shukla said.
"This was the slot where the tour could have been accommodated and we did that accordingly. I have spoken to the home minister and he has said his ministry has no objection. The Ministry of External Affairs [India's foreign ministry] has also agreed to this tour."
The decision comes after prolonged, high-level consultations between officials of the two boards and, latterly, of the two governments. BCCI president N Srinivasan and PCB chief Zaka Ashraf have held several discussions this year regarding resumption of ties, with Pakistan hoping to fit in a series at the end of the year, during the Christmas break in England's tour of India.
"It's a positive move by the BCCI," Ashraf told reporters at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. "It's been six months since I have been discussing with the BCCI about the possible revival of ties and the final breakthrough came during the IPL final. Ultimately, we have received the invite from the BCCI and now we will sit to discuss the modalities of the series."
It is Pakistan's turn to host a bilateral series between the two. But there has been no international cricket in the country between Full Members since the March 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka team bus and it is understood that India are not keen to play at a neutral venue, as has been the case with all Pakistan's 'home' series since the attack. Subsequently, Ashraf said India had the prerogative to decide on the dates and host the series, but the PCB would want the BCCI to share revenue because the PCB has apparently not yet recovered from the financial loss suffered when India pulled out of their planned tour in 2009.
The news is another step forward in both boards' efforts to improve cricketing relations after the Champions League T20 governing council's approval of the inclusion of the Sialkot Stallions in this year's tournament, to be held in October. Sialkot will be the first domestic team from Pakistan to take part in the event. "The CLT20 is owned by the BCCI, Cricket Australia, and Cricket South Africa, so we will recommend to the governing council that the BCCI has no objection and is prepared to invite a Pakistan team," Srinivasan said at the time.