First in the Asia Cup, and now again on March 21, as the box-office clash between India and Pakistan draws close, anticipation growing around a possible bilateral series between the two countries in the near future is only natural.
But the iciness between the two cricket Boards, after their fallout during the ICC revamp meeting in Singapore in February, has left the Pakistan Board stranded. Keen to resume bilateral cricketing ties with India, the PCB is set to approach the BCCI president N Srinivasan during the ICC meeting in Dubai on April 9 and 10.
“We are keen to play against India to resume our bilateral ties; we are keen to play anywhere -- in India, Pakistan, or on a neutral venue -- whatever is acceptable to India. According to the current Future Tours Programme, India owe us a series, the BCCI is yet to honour it. We will speak to Srinivasan about the same in the next ICC meeting,” said Najam Sethi, the PCB chief.
Quid pro quo
A top BCCI official had recently confided that a series against Pakistan would depend on the PCB consenting to the revamp of ICC’s organisational and financial model, proposed by the Indian, England and Australian cricket boards. It would also be subject to the external affairs ministry’s clearance.
Though the PCB has made up its mind to back the ICC’s revamp plan, it quickly dismisses any possibility of the MEA denying permission, citing it as an excuse by the BCCI.
“The BCCI is the only hindrance between the India-Pakistan series. We were told that India’s Foreign Ministry is against the series. But we checked with our own ministry here as well as with their counterparts in India, and learnt no such sentiments prevail against the resumption of our cricketing ties. In fact, we had asked Srinivasan to produce any such letter issued by the ministry, and we haven’t got any reply till now,” Sethi added.
The twin objectives
After replacing Zaka Ashraf as the PCB chief following the Pakistani government’s intervention after the Singapore meeting, Najam Sethi has two immediate priorities: Say yes to the revamp plan and resume cricketing ties with India.
Optimistic of defusing the current stand-off over the revamp plan, Sethi sounded a conciliatory note. “Everybody has signed except for us. We will join the rest, but only after we make sure what it means for Pakistan’s interest and what the big three bring to the table for us. It will be too hard to be kept away for too long. We have locked in our FTP commitments till 2020 with all, except India. Let’s see how sincere the BCCI is in restoring ties,” concluded the PCB head.