No India-Pakistan series till March 2012, says BCCI

The cricket fans will have to wait till next year for an India-Pakistan bilateral series since the cricket calendar is completely full till March 2012.

Updated: April 14, 2011 13:36 IST
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New Delhi\/Islamabad: The cricket fans will have to wait till next year for an India-Pakistan bilateral series since the cricket calendar is completely full till March 2012.

Rajiv Shukla, the BCCI vice-president, said: "There are no free slots available on the cricket tour calendar to accommodate an India-Pakistan series until the end of March 2012."

Shukla's statement negates the reports of India-Pakistan playing a three-match ODI series this year.

However, as a follow-up to the talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani, India has decided in-principle to resume bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan.

Prime Minister Gilani, who visited Mohali last month to watch the India-Pakistan World Cup semifinal, had said that boards of the two countries were holding negotiations for renewing cricket ties.

Pakistan Cricket Board chief operating officer, Subhan Ahmad, had also told 'The News' daily that efforts were on to arrange a three-match ODI series despite the hectic schedule of the two countries this year.

Government sources had also said the time of the visit, the venues of the matches and other logistical issues would be decided by the cricket boards of the two countries. Sources had said if everything went according to the plans, Indian cricket team would visit Pakistan first and the cricket team of that country would pay a return visit.

However, now with BCCI striking down any such chance of a series, the fans will have to wait for another year for what is called 'the mother of all battles'.

Before the World Cup semi-final match at Mohali on March 30, India last played against Pakistan at an Asia Cup match in June 2010 at Dambula in Sri Lanka.

The last bilateral cricket series between India and Pakistan was held in 2007-2008 when the Pakistani team had visited India. No international cricket team has visited Pakistan to play any match after the terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team on March 3, 2009, when six members of the visiting team were injured. Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were also killed in the incident.

The security situation in Pakistan continues to be a source of serious concern for international cricketers. Plans to launch a premier league and invite Sri Lanka to play in a series later this year have been put on hold.

Officials in the PCB have confirmed that other boards had in recent meetings in Sri Lanka made it clear that their players were reluctant to travel to the crisis-torn country for the Pakistan Premier League (PPL) Twenty20 competition because of security fears.

Sources said New Delhi has not lost its sight of key issues like existence of terror infrastructure in Pakistan and infiltration from across the border and would continue to vigorously pursue with Islamabad to take action on that front.

"India wants to engage Pakistan and improve relations. Cricket is one of the issues which have immense popularity in both the countries. But if there is a terror strike in India emanating from Pakistan, we would be forced to suspend all our initiatives," sources said.

Sources said the fresh impetus to improve bilateral relations has been given after the two Prime Ministers met in Mohali on the sidelines of the India-Pakistan cricket match and the Home Secretary level talks last month.

Pakistan has already moved the Lahore High Court challenging a lower court decision rejecting pleas to hand over to India the voice samples of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

The neighbouring country has also released Indian prisoner Gopal Das last week and decided to release nearly 100 fishermen in next two days.

India is also releasing around 40 Pakistani prisoners and fishermen by Friday. The second batch of prisoners and fishermen is likely to be released by both the countries by April 21.

"We have not forgotten Mumbai attack and it is still our priority to bring into justice the perpetrators of the crime. We need at least six months time to see Pakistan's sincerity to act in that front to improve bilateral relations," sources said.

After his talks with Gilani at Mohali, Singh had said "the beautiful game of cricket" has been a "uniting factor" in bringing together the two Prime Ministers.

Singh had said "whatever be the differences between our two countries, we have to find ways to resolve them". (With PTI Inputs)

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