Pakistan likely to play India at neutral venue


LAHORE – In a bid to revive the Indo-Pak bilateral cricket ties, the Pakistan Cricket Board is trying hard to convince the BCCI for a short one-day series this year in Pakistan or at a neutral venue.
Pakistan Cricket Board’s Chief Operating Officer Subhan Ahmed was quoted by the Press Trust of India news agency as saying that modalities of the short series would hopefully be worked out in a meeting with BCCI officials in June. Subhan, however, admitted that due to the tight international schedule of the Indian team, it would be quite a bit of task to squeeze out a week or a 10-day period for the series.
“It is not possible to play a full Test series this year, that is obvious to us. But we are definitely keen on at least three-match or five-match series sometime this year in Pakistan or at a neutral venue to kick off the revival process,” he said. Immediately after the ongoing IPL, India is scheduled to tour the West Indies for four Tests and five ODIs, followed by a long tour of England in July-August.
England will then come to India for a one-day series in November and the West Indies will follow for a three-Test and five ODI series. The Indians then travel to Australia for a high-profile series in December-January. Pakistan is due to tour India in March-April 2012 for a full Test series under the ICC’s Future Tours Program, but the PCB is keen to have the bilateral series before that.
Cricket experts, however, were sceptical if the Indian players would be willing to take the risk of touring Pakistan. India suspended all direct cricket ties with Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Subhan said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani has given clearance to the PCB to start the process of reviving bilateral cricket with India.
Asked about the statements emanating from BCCI officials about the Indian government not having informed them about trying to revive bilateral cricket with Pakistan, Subhan said this was made very clear by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Mohali. He recalled that during the World Cup semi-final match, when the Indian Premier met with the officials of the two Boards, Singh had stated that both countries should resume cricket ties.
“What we realise is that the Indian Board is tied up with the Indian Premier League and only after that is over would they be able to focus on the issue of reviving bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan,” Subhan said. “Our first priority is to convince the Indians to come to Pakistan for the short series but if that is not working out we have not ruled out the option of neutral venues,” he said.
Subhan said security situation in Pakistan remained a major issue even for the PCB. “We know that foreign teams are not willing to visit Pakistan and we can expect reservations from the Indians as well. But for that we would soon start work on a comprehensive security plan with the guidance and approval of the government to convince the Indians,” he said.
“We will formalise the comprehensive security plan also in consultation with the International Cricket Council task force on Pakistan and their security experts. The idea is to prepare a security plan that should satisfy not only the Indian Board and players but also other foreign teams,” Subhan added.
Reminded that under the FTP, India still owed PCB a full Test series on Pakistan soil in lieu of the cancelled 2009 tour, the PCB official said everything would depend on the outcome of the talks in June. “Our idea is that if the Indian board agrees to the short series this year and then agrees to play the Tests of that 2009 tour at some other time, then the 2012 tour would be viewed as a new series,” he said.
“We have no issues undertaking that tour on schedule but obviously we are looking at hosting India before that tour to compensate for the 2009 cancelled tour, and also to take the first practical step towards reviving regular bilateral ties,” he said. Subhan also said it was a wrong impression that Sri Lanka had refused to tour Pakistan later in the year for their full series.
“The position is that we have sent them a proposal to play some matches in Pakistan and we are awaiting their response,” he added.