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PCB chairman’s visits to India indicate resumption of bilateral cricket series

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan is set to visit India three times in just about two months to discuss the revival of the India-Pakistan bilateral Test series that was last played seven-and-a-half years ago.

Khan, who visited Delhi in March, is set to meet BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya next week, and could be in Delhi before the end of May – a hint that he is getting positive vibes from India, be it the government or the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The BCCI and Khan are discussing the revival of the stalled India-Pakistan bilateral Test series, scheduled to be played in December in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to the ICC’s Future Tours Programme (FTP).

Dalmiya said on Wednesday that Khan, his old friend, would be meeting him in Kolkata next week and then they might meet up again before the month is over.

“He is coming here [Kolkata] next week. He talked to me about a month back on phone,” Dalmiya told MAIL TODAY. “We may meet again after a fortnight or three weeks in Delhi,” he said. ASKED about the agenda of their meeting, Dalmiya, now well into his 75th year and battling ill health, said: “There are so many things to be talked out.”

The Dalmiya-Khan meeting in Delhi, possibly along with BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, might also see the presence of some key ministers, most probably Arun Jaitley, who is likely to play a crucial role in the resumption of bilateral cricketing ties.

A BCCI official said that the final approval would have to come from the government. “It would depend largely on what advice senior minister Jaitley gives to his government. His inputs would be crucial to the final decision the government takes,” the official told Mail Today.

Jaitley is No.2 in the government and holds three important portfolios – finance, corporate affairs, and information and broadcasting. The BCCI official also hinted that the prevailing situation between the two countries at the time would also be crucial.

India and Pakistan have not played a Test series for seven-and-half years. The last series was staged in November-December 2007, when the Pakistani team visited India for a three Tests that Anil Kumble’s team won 1-0. And the last time the two countries played a bilateral One day International series was in December-January 2012-2013 when the Pakistani team toured India for three ODIs and a T20 International.

Apart from bilateral exchanges, India and Pakistan have also played in ICC events like the Champions Trophy, the World Twenty20 and the World Cup. Now, the two countries,according to the ICC FTP, are scheduled to play two Tests, give ODIs and two Twenty20 Internationals in the UAE. Since no Test team is willing to tour Pakistan due to security reasons, the UAE is acting as the alternate host for the PCB.

Khan’s first visit to India was in early March when he met new BCCI secretary Thakur, but not Dalmiya as he had to cancel his trip to Delhi due to ill health.

“I impressed upon him [Thakur] that the series that we are going to play is very important for both India and Pakistan, and that it should be finalised now,” Khan told Mail Today on March 9.
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