Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday gave a green signal to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to send the national team to Sri Lanka for a bilateral series with India, as proposed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in a meeting between the heads of the two boards earlier this week in Dubai.
Sources told CricketNext on Thursday that Sharif has approved Pakistan’s participation, which is likely to include three ODIs and two T20s with India after the two boards reached an agreement on Sri Lanka as the neutral venue.
India had refused to play in UAE and PCB chairman Shahryar Khan turned down BCCI president and ICC chairman Shashank Manohar’s offer to send the Pakistan team to India.
The final step towards the series coming to fruition will be clearance from the Government of India, which the BCCI still awaits.
“Yesterday, I had written a letter to the Foreign Ministry seeking clearance to play with Pakistan in Sri Lanka,” BCCI Anurag Thakur said on Wednesday.
The two neighbours haven’t played each other in a full bilateral series since 2007 when Pakistan toured India, though Pakistan did visit India in 2012 for a limited-overs series.
Sri Lanka was agreed upon as the venue after Shahryar and Manohar had a meeting in Dubai on Sunday, which was mediate by England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) president Giles Clarke, with Najam Sethi also in attendance.
With only a month’s window available between India’s last home Test against South Africa, which is scheduled to end December 7, and the first ODI in Australia on January 12, the Indo-Pak series is likely to remain a limited-overs affair. Some reports, however, have said that England could be the neutral venue for the Test series sometime next year.
Sri Lanka as the venue will also sort out the issue of broadcast rights as the TEN Network telecasts all home series of Sri Lanka and Pakistan, which will help the latter not infringe any of its contractual terms with TEN.
The two boards had entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during the N Srinivasan regime in the BCCI, according to which the two teams will play six bilateral series over the next eight years.