India will not play a bilateral series with us, said Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shahryar Khan on Wednesday. The former world champions were scheduled to play a short series involving limited overs matches in Sri Lanka later this month. (BCCI Could Face Legal Ramifications)
There was an air of expectation for the series to go ahead after a meeting of foreign ministers – Sushma Swaraj and Sartaj Aziz — in Islamabad on Tuesday. Fans wanted cricket to heal souring political relations between the neighbours.(Pakistan May Pull Out of 2016 T20 World Cup)
“We were hopeful that Sushma Swaraj’s visit will make things better but it did not happen,” Shahryar Khan was quoted as saying by Waqt News. (Pakistan Cricket Board Will Wait For Two More Days, Before Calling Off India Series: Shahryar Khan)
India’s decision not to play the series will come as a blow for the Pakistan Cricket Board. Pakistan’s cricket-loving Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had cleared the tour last month but the Board of Control for Cricket in India did not get Delhi’s approval.
“We wanted to play, but India did not respond positively. It is already too late to organise the series and we don’t have time for the series anyway,” he said.
Khan also said, the PCB “will decide the future plan after analysing options under legal aspects and consultation.”
On Wednesday, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur said Sushma Swaraj’s visit was a “step in the right direction” in improving bilateral relationship between India and Pakistan but just stopped from saying if a cricket series would go ahead. Thakur, a BJP MP, had earlier said that “cricket was impossible in a climate of terror.”
The two countries, bitter rivals on and off the cricket field, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2014 that Pakistan would host their next series after India had staged their previous two meetings (2007 and 2012).
Although India and Pakistan have played in International Cricket Council events like the World Cups and Champions Trophy, a bilateral series has been few and far between. (World Cricket Loses Nothing: Sunil Gavaskar)
According to the ICC calendar, India and Pakistan were originally scheduled to play two Tests, five ODIs and two Twenty20 internationals in December-January 2016.
In recent months, India and Pakistan had differed over the venue of the series. While Pakistan were adamant that India should play at their adopted ‘home’, United Arab Emirates, BCCI wanted Pakistan to play in India.