x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Cricket rivals India could play Pakistan in Dubai

The bitter foes are slated to face off next year and the International Cricket Council may prefer series in its backyard.

India's Navjot Sidhu hits a four against Pakistan at the Champions Trophy in Sharjah on October 15, 1989. The two rivals have played many matches through the 1980s and 1990s in the UAE.
India's Navjot Sidhu hits a four against Pakistan at the Champions Trophy in Sharjah on October 15, 1989. The two rivals have played many matches through the 1980s and 1990s in the UAE.

The UAE could host the long-awaited series between Pakistan and India next year with a full programme of Test and one-day cricket games, in what would be a breakthrough in relations that were hit by the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The latest Future Tours Programme — released by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the world's governing body — shows the two South Asian rivals could play three Tests and five one-day internationals in March and April 2012.

India is designated as the host of the series, but an ICC spokesman told Agence France-Presse yesterday that the list was provisional and indicated the matches were likely to be played at a neutral venue.

The UAE has become an adopted home for Pakistan in recent years and the latter will play a series against Sri Lanka starting in mid-October. They are then set to meet England in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in a series of limited-overs matches early next year.

Sri Lanka could be proposed as another alternative venue but the ICC may prefer to host the series close to its headquarters in Dubai. Any series would be organised entirely by both countries' governing bodies.

No one was immediately available for comment at the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

India severed cricketing links with its neighbour after the Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people and which New Delhi blamed on outlawed Islamist militants based across the border in Pakistan.

No major international cricket side has toured Pakistan since gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven others.

India last played Pakistan in this year's World Cup semi-final at Mohali, beating them in a keenly-watched encounter attended by the prime ministers of the two countries, Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Afterwards there were calls by players and politicians for the resumption of cricketing links, as millions of fans were missing out due to the nuclear armed neighbours' strained political ties.

Nirupama Rao, India's foreign secretary, even said that the country was ready to send its team to Pakistan, if provided full security.

The Pakistan Cricket Board welcomed Rao's statement and said it was exploring options for playing a series at a neutral venue.

The last time Pakistan played a Test in India was in Bangalore in December 2007. India won the series 1-0. Apart from the World Cup semi-final, their the last one-dayer on Indian soil was in November 2007 in Jaipur. Pakistan won the match but lost that series 3-2.

* Compiled with agency