Islamabad: After weeks of uncertainty, the Pakistan Cricket Board has confirmed a series with India following a meeting of foreign ministers Sushma Swaraj and Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad on Tuesday. The series, likely to feature three limited overs matches, will be played in Sri Lanka between December 24 and January 5.
Pakistan’s cricket-loving Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had cleared the tour last month but BCCI did not have Delhi’s approval. The two countries, bitter rivals on and off the cricket field, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2014 that Pakistan would host their next series after India had staged their previous two meetings (2007 and 2012).
Although India and Pakistan have played in International Cricket Council events like the World Cups and Champions Trophy, a bilateral series has been few and far between.
According to the ICC calendar, India and Pakistan were originally schedule to play two Tests, five ODIs and two Twenty20 internationals in December-January 2016. But given India’s next tour of Australia starting January 12 in Perth, BCCI and Pakistan Cricket Board agreed to a much shortened series.
In recent months, India and Pakistan had differed over the venue of the series. While Pakistan were adamant that India should play at their adopted ‘home’, United Arab Emirates, BCCI wanted Pakistan to play in India.
India finally agreed to Sri Lanka as a ‘neutral’ venue to honour its commitment to ICC and keep its relationship with Pakistan alive and kicking, much like Sushma Swaraj did on the political front.