LAHORE: Pakistan’s cricket chief said Wednesday his hopes for a bilateral series with arch-rivals India had been dashed after a visit to Islamabad by India’s external minister failed to yield any breakthrough.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had hoped Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan for the Heart of Asia regional conference Tuesday and Wednesday would open the way for a limited short over series, agreed between the PCB and the Indian cricket board and due to be played in Sri Lanka.
But Pakistan media reported cricket was not discussed during Swaraj’s talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz, while she made no reference to the series in a brief statement Wednesday evening.
Any chance of a series is “over”, PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan told AFP, adding that the foreign office had conveyed to him that without talks on the cricket it would be “difficult” to arrange any series.
India had suspended bilateral cricket with Pakistan in the aftermath of the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based across the border.
The two cricket boards agreed to break the deadlock by signing a Memorandum of Understanding last year under which they were due to play six series between 2015-2023, all subject to clearance from their respective governments.
The first series, originally due to be played in United Arab Emirates in December-January, was comprised of two Tests, five one-day and two Twenty20 matches, but it ran into trouble over strained relations between the two countries since the start of 2015.
Accusations of ceasefire violations led to the cancellation of a meeting between their security advisers in Delhi in August.
But a recent thaw, with both prime ministers briefly meeting on the sidelines of Climate Change conference in Paris in November and subsequent talks between security advisers in Bangkok, raised hopes of a cricket revival.
Last month the two boards agreed to play a short limited over series of three one-day and two Twenty20 internationals in Sri Lanka after their heads met in Dubai, leaving the final decision to their respective governments.
Islamabad gave a go ahead to the series on November 26 but have been awaiting clearance from New Delhi ever since.
Khan said the series could have netted Pakistan $50 million (five billion rupees).
“We are disappointed that India did not honour their commitment,” he said.