Tuesday, 17 July 2012 00:26
LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board on Monday swiftly welcomed the first proposed cricket series with India in five years, saying millions of fans would be delighted.
"The decision is great and we welcome it. It seems that millions of cricket fans have their wishes fulfilled," PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf told reporters in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore.
"We have received a letter with the BCCI invitation for the series in which they have confirmed the series, and the venues and other things will be decided later," said Ashraf.
India's cricket chiefs said they had invited Pakistan for a tour later this year, which would be the first in five years if approved by their governments.
The working committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) proposed the series, likely to be three one-day internationals, in December-January.
Ashraf, who was appointed chairman of the PCB last October, spoke to the BCCI after he was invited to watch the Indian Premier League (IPL) final on May 28 -- a month after President Asif Ali Zardari asked Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to revive cricket.
"I started the talks as soon as I took over as PCB chairman. I started for the revival of cricket in Pakistan as well as breaking the deadlock between India and Pakistan and I am thankful to the Almighty that it has happened," said Ashraf.
Pakistan last toured India in 2007 while India participated in the Asia Cup held in Lahore and Karachi a year later, but since gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team in March 2009, international cricket has been suspended in Pakistan.
Players, officials and fans went into a frenzy over India's invitation.
Test captain Misbah-ul Haq said it was "great news" for millions of fans in South Asia.
"The competition in such a series is so high that it's important for the players. And players from both the sides miss such matches and they want to be part of it," he told journalists in Lahore.
Former Captain Javed Miandad was similarly ecstatic.
"It is definitely a great news," Miandad told AFP. "One must give credit to Ashraf for his whole-hearted efforts to revive Indo-Pak cricket and that paid off today."
Former leg-spinner Abdul Qadir hoped the December series would be a first step towards better relations and India one day touring Pakistan.
"I think cricket will open further doors like trade and cooperation in tackling terrorism in both the countries," said Qadir.
"India should also be given the option of playing on the neutral venues like United Arab Emirates," said Qadir.
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012