Series will be an ice-breaker, says PCB president Ashraf

Lahore: The Pakistan Cricket Board Zaka Ashraf welcomed the initiative on the part of BCCI to resume bilateral cricket ties with a short limited overs series in India in December calling it as an "ice-breaker."

PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf told reporters in Lahore that the BCCI President N Srinivasan had called him up to confirm about the three match ODI and two T20 Internationals."

"The BCCI has said that they have a time slot available in December after Christmas and in early January as they are hosting England as well," Ashraf said.

"We are delighted with this invitation and development and see it as a big ice-breaker in revival of bilateral ties between the two countries."

"The series will also help improve relations between the two countries. The BCCI invitation today is the result of some really hard work put in by both boards in the last few months to resume bilateral ties and what is welcome is both governments have also supported revival of bilateral ties," Ashraf said.

A smiling Ashraf who initiated a proactive campaign to convince the BCCI to resume ties soon after he took over as chairman in October 2011 said that his visits to India had proved very helpful in breaking the ice.

"I realized we could make progress when the BCCI invited us to send our domestic T20 team for the Champions League this year," he said.

India had frozen all bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan after the Mumbai terror attacks in November, 2008. The last time both countries played a bilateral series was in 2007 in India and since than although they have met in ICC events but not on bilateral level.

"I am sure millions of cricket fans in both countries will be happy with this decision," Ashraf said and added "Indo-Pak cricket ties are also important for the promotion of the sport internationally."

Ashraf hoped that the resumption of bilateral ties with India would also help in the revival of international cricket in Pakistan suspended since early 2009 when militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore.

"Though we will be playing in India but I am sure the series will have positive impact on revival of international cricket in Pakistan as well," Ashraf added.

A senior board official asked about the threats issued by the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party against the Pakistan team said this was the norm whenever Pakistan team prepared to go to India.

"It is not our concern and we have full faith in the ability of BCCI to host the series successfully."

The official also said that at present for PCB what was important was that bilateral ties resumed and any revenue sharing formula could be discussed later.

Pakistan has said in the past that the BCCI should compensate it for India`s cancelled tour to Pakistan in early 2009 after the Mumbai attacks which the PCB claims cost it millions of dollars in estimated revenues.

Ashraf conceded that his visit to India to watch the Indian Premier League final in May on the invitation of the BCCI soon after President Asif Zardari had made a short visit to India was a big step forward in revival of bilateral ties.

"The government has supported us a lot in our efforts to revive bilateral cricket with India and I am just happy all our efforts have borne fruit," he said.