The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) invited Pakistan’s Sialkot Stallions on Saturday to play in the Champions League Twenty20 tournament in India.
The BCCI, which met in Chennai on Saturday, gave the go ahead to Pakistan’s participation in the tournament which features leading domestic Twenty20 teams from around the world.
“The BCCI has decided to invite a team from Pakistan to play in the Champions League to be held in India in October,” BCCI chief Narayanaswami Srinivasan told reporters after the meeting.
The BCCI’s recommendation will be forwarded to the governing council of the Champions League which is owned by the cricket boards of India, Australia and South Africa, Srinivasan added.
India and Pakistan met in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh in March and the World Cup semi-final in India last year, but regular tours have been frozen since the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
India postponed a tour to Pakistan scheduled for January 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai carnage, which left 166 people dead and many hundreds injured.
The latest move by the BCCI comes a month after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, who was on a private visit to New Delhi, urged Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to consider reviving cricket ties.
Srinivasan, asked if this was the first step towards reviving relations with Pakistan, said: “Today, the decision is limited to the Champions League. I don’t want to say anything beyond it.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chief Operating Officer Subhan Ahmed told Express News that the move will help in reviving bilateral cricket ties between the two nations. “The league is scheduled for October in India. We have talked to them about this on the phone, but we are still waiting for a written confirmation.”
Ahmed, terming the invitation as a “positive development”, said that the BCCI and PCB have been holding talks since three to four months regarding this trip and had exchanged several proposals as well.
The Sialkot Stallions team will play in India under the captaincy of Shoaib Malik and will retain the same team which played domestic matches. Malik has remained impressive in the domestic season where he led Sialkot Stallions to two Twenty20 titles – the National Twenty20 and the Super Eight T20 Cup.