India and Pakistan are likely to break the cricketing ice most probably with a “friendly series” this year, comprising a few Twenty20 Internationals and One- day Internationals, before a full- fledged Test series takes place.
Pakistan Cricket Board ( PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf, now in India on an invitation of the BCCI, said that in the two meetings that he has had with BCCI president N Srinivasan in Chennai since Sunday, it was agreed to break the ice with a short series, most probably this year.
“We discussed different options for the resumption of the bilateral series during our two meetings.
While I cannot disclose all the things we discussed, there was more or less an agreement that we should begin with a short series comprising One- day Internationals and T20 Internationals this year,” Ashraf told MAIL TODAY . “ It can be a friendly series, comprising maybe two to four matches, to break the ice. And I think it can be held in India or in Pakistan. We will have to see when the two teams are free, so that this series can be fitted somewhere in our teams’ busy schedule,” he said.
Srinivasan and Ashraf, who was invited to watch the IPL final, first met on Sunday and then again on Monday.
“ Both of us will now go back to our Boards and discuss the issues with members. We will discuss the next step during the International Cricket Council annual conference in Malaysia next month,” Ashraf said.
Finding a slot for the series would be more difficult for the BCCI than the PCB as the Indian team has a tight schedule. India are mostly playing at home this season, except for two visits to Sri Lanka for a short series and the Twenty20 Wold Cup.
India’s virtual non- stop season begins with a 15- day tour of Sri Lanka ( July 22- August 7) for five ODIs and lone T20 International and after a 15- day interval, they will play two Tests and two T20 Internationals against New Zealand at home, from August 23 to September 11.
After a six- day gap, both teams travel to Sri Lanka for the T20 World Cup, from Sept 18- Oct 7, and from the next day starts the Champions League T20, for which Pakistani national champions Sialkot Stallions have also been invited. Immediately after the CLT20 ends on Oct 28, the home series against England ( Oct 30- Dec 22 and then Jan 3- 27) comprising four Tests, two T20 Internationals and five ODIs will start.
The only likely available space for a short series against Pakistan is between Dec 23 and Jan 2.
“I want the relations between India and Pakistan ( cricket Boards) to become so good — and they are developing in a very nice manner — that even while playing in India we get the feel that we are playing in Pakistan,” he said, looking forward to the resumption of the bilateral Test series after four- and- a- half years. The last Test series was played in India in late 2007.
Ashraf is believed to have also explored the possibility of Pakistan staging its ‘ home series’ in India. But it seems unlikely that the BCCI would agree to this demand as, amongst other things the income from media rights will a big bone of contention.
“It depends on the Indian Board, what it feels; it’s the prerogative of the host cricket board of respective countries, whether to agree to it or not,” he said.
Ashraf said that the top politicians of the two countries have no objection to the resumption of the bilateral series. Citing the meetings of the prime ministers of the two countries during the World Cup and that of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari with Manmohan Singh in New Delhi last month, he said that they all want bilateral cricket to resume.
“When Pakistani PM Yusuf Raza Jilani visited Mohali for the World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan last year, Indian PM Manmohan Singh told Srinivasan’s predecessor, Shashank Manohar, that his government had no problems and that he wanted the two Boards to talk with each other,” he claimed.