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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 October, 2003, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Cricket hails Test resumption
By Gulu Ezekiel

India's Sachin Tendulkar is out to the delight of Pakistan
India and Pakistan did play each other in the 2003 World Cup
The news India and Pakistan have finally agreed to resume Test cricket ties after a four-year hiatus came as something as a surprise.

Talks had been ongoing for some time and recently the under-22 sides met in an Asian cricket competition in Sri Lanka.

But the news on Wednesday confirmed Pakistan will definitely host India in a Test series in February next year and India will reciprocate a year later.

Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive and former Test captain Rameez Raja said cricket was the perfect way to help restore peace between the two countries.

He said: "We are very delighted and appreciate that the Indian Government has put cricket first.

"The PCB has always maintained that sports and politics should not be mixed.

"To improve relationships, there has to be people-to-people contact and cricket can be a good medium.

Matches between India and Pakistan have always been exciting and entertaining
Ex-India captain Kris Srikkanth

Although India and Pakistan have played each other in the World Cup, it will be the first time since 1989 Pakistan have hosted India.

The last time Pakistan played a Test series in India was in 1999.

Former captain and opener Kris Srikkanth told the BBC Sport website: "We are both cricket-crazy countries and matches between India and Pakistan have always been exciting and entertaining."

The Indian government downgraded diplomatic and sporting ties with Pakistan following the attack on Parliament by what it said were Pakistan-backed Kashmiri militants in December 2001.

However, as it transpired sporting links were maintained in all events except cricket which the BJP government dubbed as different on an "emotional level".

India were allowed to play in multi-lateral tournaments such as the World Cup, but not bilateral events or on each others soil.

Professor Ratnakar Shetty, joint secretary of the Board of Cricket Control in India said: "The government have decided now is the right time to restore cricket ties. We are happy for this."

The previous biggest break between series was from 1962 to 1978 during which the two nations fought two wars.

The Indian captain to Pakistan in 1978, Bishan Bedi, expressed guarded optimism.

He told the BBC Sport website: "It is a welcome step. But the move must be implemented in earnest. I want to see things go beyond statements."

A Pakistani contingent is currently in Hyderabad for the inaugural multi-discipline Afro-Asian Games due to begin on Friday.

Indian and Pakistani hockey teams have also met on numerous occasions in international tournaments over the last 18 months, though not on their own soil.

The BCCI was prevented from sending a team to Pakistan earlier this year for the Asian Test championship which was subsequently cancelled.

Former India captain Ajit Wadekar never got to play against Pakistan.

He said: "Cricket brings nations together. So I welcome such a move."


SEE ALSO
India to play Pakistan
22 Oct 03  |  Cricket
Asian rivals take first step
29 Sep 03  |  Cricket
ICC keeps pressure on India
23 Sep 03  |  Cricket
Legends back Pakistan-India series
18 Sep 03  |  Cricket


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