LAHORE - The United Kingdom has emerged as a potential venue to for Pakistan to host Indian for a reciprocal series, following the reluctance of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to tour Pakistan.
The sporting ties between both nations had been frozen since the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, with the teams last having played a bilateral series in India during 2007. The Men In Blue were due to tour Pakistan next in early 2009, but following the attacks in Mumbai, the tour was cancelled following a directive from the Indian government.
Roughly five years of drought passed, although both teams continued to play each other in international events such as the ICC World Cup 2011 (during which they faced-off at Mohali for a much hyped semi-final which Pakistan lost), and the Asia Cup in Dhaka this March (where India against bested the Men In Green).
However, recent developments have led to a thaw in the relations between the two boards, and to mark the resumption of ties, a bilateral series was announced by the BCCI.
The short series is due to be played in December 2012/January 2013 in India (although it was Pakistan’s turn to host), in between the Test and ODI legs of England’s tour of India, when the Poms take a Christmas and New Year’s break. It will consist of 3 ODIs (which will be played in Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata), and 2T20Is (to be played in Ahmedabad and Bangalore).
The series will be held in India owing to the BCCI’s reluctance to play at a neutral venue, but this throws the Pakistan Cricket Board into a dilemma regarding a venue for the reciprocal series they plan to host.
"The BCCI was firm that no India-Pakistan series will be held at a neutral venue so it was decided to invite them [Pakistan] after December 22 when the England team leaves after playing the Twenty20 Internationals," senior BCCI official Rajiv Shukla had confirmed.
Following the 2009 militant terrorist attacks on the touring Sri Lankan team in Lahore, Pakistan’s status as a venue for international sporting events came under doubt, owing to which the Men In Green have been forced to host home series at venues such as the UAE. However, the BCCI have objected to the UAE, owing to its reputation as a hub of illegal betting.
An Indian daily reported: "The reciprocal India-Pakistan cricket series, to be hosted by the neighbour, may be played in England as the island nation is emerging as the most suitable venue given the Indian board's reluctance to send a team to Pakistan. "The England option seems the most attractive as grounds can be hired, television proceeds can be worked out and security is not as daunting a task as it might be elsewhere.”
"An India-Pakistan series is a sure shot full draw and England's cricketing establishment can profit by providing the venues." Similarly, the possibility of playing in Dubai did not find favour with the Indian board which feels the Gulf destination's reputation as the capital of illegal betting can result in the cricket team attracting unwelcome attention. A betting scandal is the last thing the board wants.
The England option seems the most attractive as grounds can be hired, television proceeds can be worked out and security is not as daunting a task as it might be elsewhere. An India-Pakistan series is a sure shot full draw and England's cricketing establishment can profit by providing the venues.
On these grounds, England emerges as the most suitable venue – grounds can be hired, security threats are minimal, and broadcasting issues can easily be sorted out.