Zaka to watch IPL final with BCCI chief


Pakistan’s cricket chief said on Monday he had accepted an invitation to watch the Indian Premier League final next week and would use to visit to discuss reviving cricketing ties between the rivals.
Pakistan Cricket Board chief Zaka Ashraf said he had received an invitation from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and would watch the IPL final on May 27 in Chennai, more than three years after ties were suspended. “It is a positive step forward in further normalising bilateral cricket ties between the two countries,” Ashraf told reporters in London. “The invitation will allow me to undertake a two-day visit to India and I plan to use this visit to have informal discussions with the BCCI officials regarding chances of restoring bilateral cricket ties,” he said. The invitation is seen as the second major step towards reviving ties between the two cricketing powerhouses. Ties were suspended in the wake of the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which were blamed on militants from Pakistan and left 166 people dead. The BCCI earlier this month approved Pakistan featuring in this year’s Champions League, a tournament between the top three IPL teams and winners from domestic Twenty20 champions from several other countries.
The moves followed a request by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a one-day visit to India last month. Since taking over in October last year, Ashraf endeavoured to revive cricket between India and Pakistan but without receiving any positive response from the BCCI. However, Zardari’s visit seems to have given the process some impetus. The arch-rivals are due to play this year in the ICC (International Cricket Council) Future Tour Programme but India’s hectic schedule is the biggest hurdle to the possibility of holding a series. Ashraf said he remained optimistic. “We are positive about it as we want to play India regularly in bilateral matches and we are willing to talk to them at every level to achieve this,” he said.