Sri Lanka tapped as likely neutral venue for long-debated cricket series.
Pakistan’s cricket chief said on Tuesday he had sought the government’s permission for a bilateral series with India on an unspecified agreed neutral venue.
Sri Lanka is the likeliest venue to host a shortened bilateral series between the rivals after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) refused a request from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to play in United Arab Emirates, Pakistan’s adopted home venue because of security fears at home.
The move came after PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan met BCCI President Shashank Manohar in Dubai on Sunday. “We have sent the report to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and has sought permission to play India on a neutral venue,” Khan told AFP, without confirming Sri Lanka as the venue of the series.
“After the Dubai meeting both BCCI and PCB have said that the final decision rests with the respective governments, so in the next three to four days we expect a final decision,” said Khan.
With time running out, as India have to travel to Australia for a limited over series starting from Jan. 12 and Pakistan visit New Zealand in the same period, the full series of two Tests, five one-day and two Twenty20 is likely to be reduced. It is likely that both countries will agree to play three one-day and two Twenty20 internationals.
Sri Lanka Cricket interim committee head Sidath Wettimuny confirmed Pakistan has contacted him to arrange the matches. “I received a call from the PCB asking about the possibilities of hosting the series. We are now looking at it very seriously,” Wettimuny told The Island newspaper in Colombo. “Nothing is confirmed as yet as we have to get back to them on schedules and availability, but we are very excited by the request. I think this is a great opportunity for us to support Pakistan and India. They have always supported us,” Wettimuny added.
Pakistan and India have not played a full series since 2007. India stalled bilateral series with Pakistan in the wake of 2008 terrorists’ attacks on Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based across the border. But last year both the boards singed a memorandum of understanding under which they are scheduled to play six series between 2015 to 2023 but all subject to government clearance.