LAHORE: Hopes of the scheduled Indo-Pak series seem to be rekindled once again with the new BCCI chief Shashank Manohar inviting his Pakistani counterpart Shaharyar Khan to India for further discussions before taking any decision.

Since the newly-elected BCCI president did not attend the ICC conference in Dubai, Shaharyar spoke to his Indian counterpart over phone.

“On the advice of ICC chairman N. Srinivasan, I phoned the newly-elected BCCI president Shashank Manohar in India, asking him to confirm the series. Manohar told me that the BCCI working committee’s meeting will be held in near future wherein the issue of the bilateral series will be discussed.

“And he invited me to India after that meeting to discuss the issue of bilateral series,” said the PCB chief during a press conference here on Thursday.

“I was not much hopeful about the bilateral series before leaving for Dubai. But after talking to Srinivasan and Manohar, I feel there is a realisation that the matter is important and a decision must be taken soon, since just two months are left,” remarked the PCB chief during the news conference which he addressed after arriving home from the UAE.

Pakistan and India have to play six bilateral series in the 2015-2023 cycle, as per the MoU signed by the two boards in 2014.

The first of these series is scheduled to be held in the UAE in December this year but the Indian government is yet to give a go-ahead to the BCCI in this regard.

However, the more optimistic PCB chief said: “Now the BCCI will give a final date and venue of the meeting after convening the meeting of the working committee.”

Answering a question, Shaharyar said let the BCCI offer any other option including converting the bilateral series into a three-nation tournament. However, he categorically stated it would be the PCB which will make the final decision.

“If the BCCI offers another option, I will favour the bilateral series,” he said, adding that the PCB Board of Governors had to take the final decision in this regard.

The PCB chairman said that Manohar was positive and aware of the fact that the PCB might run into losses in case the bilateral series was cancelled.

“Manohar is ready to talk with the PCB on every matter including the bilateral series and our first attempt will be to resolve all the issues to move further ahead,” he commented.

On the other hand, Shaharyar said whether India confirms the bilateral series or not, things will be clear in this regard by the end of October.

He said he also raised the issue of Indo-Pak series during the ICC meeting with officials of other cricket boards who, he said, supported the PCB while expressing the view that India should take a final decision in this regard as the PCB had to make arrangements.

“Our stand is clear. The BCCI has signed the MoU with the PCB in connection with the bilateral series and now it should honour it,” the PCB chief reckoned.

“If India replies in affirmative, all doors are open for the series, otherwise, the PCB will consider what it has to do,” clarified Shaharyar who recalled that the PCB signed the MoU with the BCCI in return for signing the amendment to the ICC constitution under which the ‘Big Three’ formula was approved.

Answering a question about the experience of the ‘Big Three,’ the PCB chief said that the other member countries are getting alienated day by day, since the ‘Big Three’ formula is not fulfilling their requirements.

“The Big Three are not playing with the rest of the countries and the main reason is the less chances of revenue generation,” explained Shaharyar who argued that finances should not be given that importance, stating it is the game of cricket which is paramount.

He further said it was this backdrop against which the ICC had decided to form a committee which was tasked with revisiting the Future Tours Programme to address grievances of small countries.

About the revival of international cricket in Pakistan, the PCB chief said he met Giles Clarke (chairman of ICC’s Pakistan Task Force), adding that Clarke would visit Pakistan in November to finalise arrangements the Board would make in hosting the Commonwealth cricket team in September next year.

The chairman further said the PCB also supported Bangladesh in their standoff with Australia which recently refused to visit Bangladesh at the eleventh hour on security grounds.

However, he also said that Cricket Australia in its defence had said that it did not cancel the tour but only deferred it till a suitable time.

The chairman also stated that he had told Clarke that the ICC was yet to help the PCB in resuming international events in Pakistan.

“We did not get any support from the ICC in inviting Zimbabwe men’s team as well as Bangladesh women’s team to Pakistan,” he reckoned, stating that he also urged Clarke to play his role in revival of the Indo-Pak series.

To a question about tainted fast bowler Mohammad Amir, who has recently been penalised for acts of indiscipline in the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy qualifiers despite the fact that the bowler is undergoing rehabilitation, Shaharyar said that he had instructed chief selector Haroon Rasheed to warn the bowler that he would not get a place in the national squad even if he emerged as the highest wicket-taker.

“No doubt, Amir’s performance is good. However, if he is defaming others, all this is useless,” he said.

“We will strictly follow Amir in his six-month rehabilitation programme. He won’t be selected if he does not bring change in his attitude,” warned Shaharyar.

Talking about the PSL, the chairman said so far the response of foreign players was good but he could not confirm who would finally play as one of the top probables Chris Gayle had just been operated on.

To yet another question, the chairman said that even the second-string cricketers would not come to Pakistan if the PCB decides to hold the league in the country. However, he said the PCB would try to gradually shift the PSL to Pakistan in the next couple of years.

He also paid tribute to batting legend Younis Khan while praising experienced all-rounder Shoaib Malik for regaining his place in all three formats.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2015

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