India, Pak to resume cricket diplomacy

Pak team to visit India in Dec-Jan for short tour

India, Pak to resume cricket diplomacy

After a gap of five years, India and Pakistan will play a cricket series later this year. The cricket boards of the two countries have decided to resume ties and Pakistan will embark on a short tour of India to play three one-day matches and two T20s during December–January.

In all probability, the tour will begin on December 23 and end on January 10. While one-dayers will be played in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, T20 matches will be held in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

The two neighbours had last played each other in 2007-08 when Pakistan toured India. All bilateral cricketing ties were cancelled following the 2008 terror attack on Mumbai. The two had faced each other on March 30, 2011, in the World Cup semi-finals at Mohali which was described as “cricket diplomacy” as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh played host to his then Pak counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani at the venue.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decision, arrived at its working committee meeting on Monday, came after the Indian government okayed the proposal. However, the ministries of home and external affairs have underlined that security aspects needed to be studied closely before matches are staged.

BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale said in a statement after the Board working committee concluded its meeting on Monday: “It was decided to resume cricketing ties with Pakistan by inviting the Pakistan cricket team for a short series in December 2012-January 2013. The modalities will be worked out shortly.”

Soon after, Pakistan Cricket Board chief Zaka Ashraf said it was a welcome step. “I am glad this has come through,” Ashraf said. “Negotiations were on for quite some time and both boards worked hard to make it happen. It is certainly a good news even from the business point of view.”

Said BCCI spokesman and minister at Centre Rajeev Shukla: “The BCCI was firm on its stand that no Indo-Pak series will be held on any neutral venue so it was decided to invite them after December 22 when the England team leaves after playing the Twenty20 Internationals.”

Thus the Pakistan team will visit India when England returns from its tour of India for the Christmas break. Shukla added: "This was the slot where the tour could have been accommodated and we did that accordingly. I have spoken to Home minister, P Chidambaram and he has said that there is no objection on the part of the ministry. The Ministry of External Affairs has also agreed on having this tour.”

On the possibility of India touring the neighbour, Shukla remarked: “Until the security situation in that country is conducive, there is absolutely no question of India travelling to Pakistan.” While the cricketing community in Pakistan hailed the move, there was mixed reaction from former cricketers in India. Former batting hero Sunil Gavaskar criticised the decision citing the Mumbai terror attack noting that Islamabad was not co-operating in the probe.

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