India will clash with Pakistan, in Pakistan, in the second match of the Asian Test Championship, which gets underway from September 1, 2001. Moreover, the first match between Pakistan and Bangladesh will also be played on Pakistan soil. The PCB Chairman who currently heads the Asian Cricket Council as well, while speaking at a press conference today announced this.

Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya, the Chairman of the ACC, also attended the press conference.

Giving further details the PCB Chairman disclosed that the final of the five-and-a-half month long tournament will commence from February 15, 2002 in Bangladesh.

While confirming Pakistan as the venue of the Asia Cup one-day tournament 2002, the PCB Chairman informed that efforts are being made to hold a quadrangular limited overs tournament jointly with India in Feb 2002. The West Indies, who are scheduled to visit Pakistan in February, and Zimbabwe, to visit India during the same period, would be the two other participants of the tournament.

Discussing the agenda of the ACC's Special General Meeting, which was held earlier today, the PCB Chairman said that the Indian government had issued a 'no-objection' letter to the Indian Cricket Board, supposedly lifting any sanctions whatsoever on the Indian team's playing on Pakistan soil. However, the General was not clear in reply to a question whether the letter authorizes the revival of bilateral ties between the two neighbours.

He maintained that nothing was yet clear about bilateral ties between India and Pakistan, however, he sincerely hoped that this 'softening' of Indian Government's stance would help in the re-establishment of bilateral ties.

The General maintained, "however, to further bind the Asian cricket teams in meeting their playing contracts, an agreement between Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh is in the offing and it is suggested that the teams not fulfilling their contracts regarding playing in another country should be penalized".

It was disclosed during the press conference, keeping in view the legal aspects and other pros and cons, the agreement would take at least 2 months to be finalized.

The second major agenda of the ACC meeting was the development plan. According to the General, "in order to expand the boundaries of cricket and to promote the game in other Asian countries it has been decided to appoint a Development Manager along with three Development officers, and a Development Consultant".

The Development Officers would be appointed after interviews and will be one each from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. One of these officers would look after the cricket affairs in UAE, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait, the second in Nepal, Hong Kong and Maldives, while the third for Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Apart from the appointment of these officials, the Development Plan envisages the appointment of a pitch curator from New Zealand and of a doctor, qualified in sports medicine. The curator would start working in Asian countries immediately after attending a seminar in Hong Kong. The PCB Chairman said "similar seminars involving umpires and coaches would also be conducted soon".

He added, "the Development Program, which has been finalized up to 2004, mainly includes the holding of junior level cricket, i.e., Under 15, Under 17 and Under 19".

The third item of ACC's meeting related to a sponsorship deal with an international beverage company. The General revealed, "after Mr Dalmiya's efforts, the company has agreed to pay the PCB the remaining 95% of the sponsorship money, ...of which 75% has already been paid".

The remaining 20% is subject to the condition that a tournament is held between some teams, say the 'A' teams of Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.

The complete schedule of the Asian Test Championship:

Sept 1-5: Pakistan v Bangladesh in Pakistan
Sept 13-17: Pakistan v India in Pakistan
Sept 21-25: India v Bangladesh in India
Oct 2-6: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh in Sri Lanka
Jan 31-Feb 4: Sri Lanka v Pakistan in Sri Lanka
Feb 7-11: India v Sri Lanka in India
Feb 15-19: Final in Bangladesh

Note: The first two dates of the tournament are confirmed, while the remaining are subject to changes, according to the need and/or other international commitments of participating countries.