NEW DELHI : The reciprocal India-Pakistan cricket series, to be hosted by the neighbour, may be played in England as the island nation is emerging as the most suitable venue given the Indian board's reluctance to send a team to Pakistan.
Deliberations between Indian and Pakistani cricket officials have seen several options being considered, including the series being played in India and the venues being leased to the Pakistani board. This proposal gets around the problem of visiting Pakistan but might have run into domestic opposition.
Similarly, the possibility of playing in Dubai did not find favour with the Indian board which feels the Gulf destination's reputation as the capital of illegal betting can result in the cricket team attracting unwelcome attention. A betting scandal is the last thing the board wants.
The England option seems the most attractive as grounds can be hired, television proceeds can be worked out and security is not as daunting a task as it might be elsewhere. An India-Pakistan series is a sure shot full draw and England's cricketing establishment can profit by providing the venues.
The winter's three ODI and two T20 engagement has broken the ice and - with the quiet urging of the Indian government - the Board of Control for Cricket in India is looking to restart the stalled cricketing ties in full earnest. The small window in December, when the visiting English team takes a break to return home for Christmas and the new year, provides an opportunity to fit in the engagement.
BCCI sources said the board is bound to follow the government's lead in scheduling a cricket series with Pakistan and there has been a push in this direction since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met former Pakistani PM Yousuf Gilani during an India-Pakistan match at the 2011 World Cup.
Bilateral ties with Pakistan are unlikely to make much progress in the remainder of UPA-2 with Pakistan heading towards polls and increasingly occupied with its own affairs. As tougher, long standing aspects of the relationship will be hard to tackle, confidence building measures like sporting contacts are seen by the government as doable.
Singh had then spoken to former BCCI chief Shashank Manohar and later, foreign minister SM Krishna and national security advisor Shivshankar Menon took up the matter with the board office-bearers. The board is keen to keep south Asian cricketing bodies in good humour as their votes count in the International Cricket Council politics where India currently holds the upper hand.