NEW DELHI: A couple of hours after reports emerged that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has given the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) provisional clearance to play India in Sri Lanka, BCCI’s Rajeev Shukla all but confirmed that a bilateral series between the two teams has been agreed upon to be hosted by the island nation.

“India-Pakistan series will happen tentatively from Dec 15 in Sri Lanka. Both the countries have agreed upon it,” Shukla was quoted as saying by ANI on Thursday.

“Around five matches will mark the resumption of cricketing ties between India and Pakistan in Sri Lanka,” he said.

The issue of bilateral cricket resuming between India and Pakistan has been much debated in recent times as tensions between the two countries have escalated, with the respective cricket boards also at loggerheads about where the scheduled series in December should take place.

Earlier, Pakistan TV channel Geo News said that Sharif has told the PCB that it can play against India at a neutral venue.

On Wednesday, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur had been quoted as saying that the Indian cricket board had made a formal request to the ministry of external affairs seeking clearance to play Pakistan. He emphasised that given its adherence to the FTP, the BCCI was committed to playing Pakistan “in UAE or at any other neutral venue if the conditions in Pakistan were not suitable”.

Relations between India and Pakistan broke down after the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. India were due to tour Pakistan in January 2009 but that series was cancelled following the 26/11 attacks. As per the ICC’s FTP, Pakistan were scheduled to tour India for three Tests and five ODIs in March-April 2012, but that series was cancelled after the Indian government did not clear it. In its place the Asia Cup was held in Bangladesh. In December 2012, Pakistan toured India for two Twenty20 internationals and three ODIs, their first bilateral series in five years between the two countries.

That was the last bilateral series between the two countries. Since then, the only meetings between India and Pakistan have come in the Asia Cup to ICC events, the latest being in February when the teams played each other during the World Cup in Australia. (The Times of India)