Pakistan wait for India FM’s visit to decide on series


The fate of a planned series between arch-rivals Pakistan and India will be decided during a visit to Islamabad by India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj this week, Pakistan’s cricket chief said Monday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said it was awaiting the Indian government’s approval of a shortened limited-over series — three one-day and two Twenty20 internationals to be held in Sri Lanka — which it agreed with the Board of Control for Cricket in India last month.

Swaraj is expected to arrive in Islamabad on Tuesday to attend the Heart of Asia regional conference, the latest sign of warming ties between the nuclear neighbours.

“We have been informally told that Swaraj will talk on cricket and decide the fate of the series,” PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan told media.

The series, agreed between the two boards in a memorandum of understanding signed last year, ran into trouble amid strained relations over cross-border shelling in disputed Kashmir.

But Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi met on the sidelines of a climate change conference in Paris last week as the two countries seek a thaw in relations.

That informal meeting was followed by “cordial” talks between the Indian and Pakistani national security advisers in Bangkok on Sunday, giving Khan fresh hope the series could yet take place.

“The recent meeting between the two prime ministers and security advisers’ meeting in Bangkok have hinted the situation between Pakistan and India will improve,” he said.

Making arrangements for the series — which could run from December 17-January 3 — would be “challenging” at such short notice, Khan said, “but we will do it once we get clearance from the Indian government.”