Pakistan slated to tour India in 2012

Pakistan have been pencilled in to tour India for a full series of Test and one-day cricket matches next year. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

MUMBAI: Pakistan have been pencilled in to tour India for a full series of Test and one-day cricket matches next year, in what would be a breakthrough in relations that were hit by the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The International Cricket Council governing body’s latest Future Tours Programme shows that 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 AFP on Thursday that the list was provisional and indicated that the matches were likely to be played at a neutral venue.

Any series would be organised entirely by both countries’ governing bodies, he added.

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 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.

Pakistan now plays “home” games in the United Arab Emirates, England and New Zealand.

India last played Pakistan in this year’s World Cup semi-final at Mohali, beating them in a keenly-watched encounter attended by the two countries’ prime ministers 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 neighbours’ strained political ties.

India’s foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao, 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 match in India was in the southern city of Bangalore in December 2007. India won the series 1-0.

Apart from the World Cup semi-final, their last one-day international on Indian soil was in November 2007 in Jaipur. Pakistan won the match but lost that series 3-2.

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