LAHORE – Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Zaka Ashraf’s efforts bore fruit as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has confirmed that the ties between the two countries will resume, as Pakistan is now scheduled to tour India for three one-dayers and two Twenty20s in December.

Reacting to the BCCI’s announcement, Ashraf told Pakistani media that it was a welcome step. “I am glad this has come through,” he remarked.

“Negotiations were on for quite some time and both the boards worked hard to make it happen. It is certainly a good news even from the business point of view.”

Ashraf said the first step towards resuming the tie was inviting Pakistan T20 Champions Sialkot Stallions for the Champions League. “Stallions were invited. That was the first step. Now this is a further development. It is good that two rivals are back playing together,” said the PCB chairman.

He told local television channels that Pakistan was still waiting for a formal invitation for the series from the Indian side, but said “it seems it will surely be held later this year.” During the recent visit of Ashraf to India and at last month’s ICC and Asian Cricket Council meetings in Malaysia, there had been discussions between the officials of both the boards on the matter.

“The decision is great and we welcome it. It seems that millions of cricket fans have their wishes fulfilled,” said Ashraf. The ODIs will be played in the last week of December during the break between the ODIs and tests England is to play in India.

“It was decided to resume cricketing ties with Pakistan by inviting the Pakistani cricket team for a short series in December 2012-January 2013,” the BCC, quoted by an Indian TV channel, said on Monday. “The modalities will be worked out shortly,” it added.

Earlier this month, the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan met in Delhi and the two sides discussed their willingness to have more sporting contact between the two countries. It is a sign of improving relations between the countries, say correspondents.

On the other hand, 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 BCCI Working Committee invited Pakistan for the series, likely to be three one-day internationals, in the last week of December.

Meanwhile, it has been learnt that the Indian government had agreed in principle to host the Pakistan team, a top BCCI official was quoted as saying by an Indian TV channel.

“The government is ready in principle to host the Pakistan team”, the BCCI official said after the working committee meeting in New Delhi.

The two countries have played against each other in the 2011 World Cup and Asia Cup recently, but bilateral series have been suspended for almost five years: the last being in India in 2007. India pulled out of the 2009 cricket tour of Pakistan in the wake of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. They were due to arrive in Pakistan in January 2009 for three Tests, five one-day games and a Twenty20 international.

Pakistan cricket has faced several crises in the last year and a tour of India may boost the confidence of the game’s managers in the country. No international team has played in Pakistan since the March 2009 attack in Lahore, which left eight people dead and several visiting players wounded, and the national team has had to play its “home” matches abroad, mostly in the United Arab Emirates.

The report about the series comes after the PCB put forward three proposals to their Indian counterparts in a bid to resume bilateral cricket ties. The PCB proposed that either India could tour Pakistan or play them in a neutral venue. The third proposal was PCB hosting their home series in India.

The process received the boost in early July when the foreign secretaries of the two countries decided to promote the sporting contacts. The joint statement issued after the two-day talks stated: “The foreign secretaries also emphasised the need to promote media and sports contacts”.

Also, Ashraf had several meetings with BCCI President N Srinivasan during the last several months. The BCCI has also invited Pakistan’s national T20 champion Sialkot Stallions to participate in the Qualifying Tournament of Champions League Twenty20 to be held in South Africa later this year.

While commenting on the development, Ashraf said that the two boards and governments had been working hard to normalise the situation and now the ties between the two countries were much better than before.

India and Pakistan last played in a bilateral series in November 2007, in which the former beat the latter 3-2. After that, there was no bilateral cricket between the two arch-rivals even though they did face each other in multi-team events like the World Cup.

BCCI announcement:

The Indian cricket board issued the following statement Monday regarding Pakistan-India series.

It was decided to resume cricketing ties with Pakistan by inviting the Pakistan cricket team for a short series in December 2012 - January 2013. The modalities will be worked out shortly.

Tour details

The series is expected to be played during the Christmas break in India. Mohali, New Delhi and Dharamshala are the likely venues for the series.

England, who will come to India in November to play four tests, five ODIs and two Twenty20s, will go back on December 22 for the Christmas after the Test series and will return for the remaining series on January 3.

The BCCI, however, still needs the approval of the Government of India to go ahead with the series.

Pakistan, India resume cricket ties