Lahore: Pakistan's Test and one-day captain Misbah-ul Haq on Thursday called for a quick revival of matches against arch-rivals India, saying that fans were keen to see the teams play. "It is very important that we have a quick revival of Indo-Pak cricket, because fans desperately want to see both countries play," Misbah told reporters.
India broke off diplomatic and sporting ties with Pakistan after the 2008 attacks on Mumbai which left 166 people dead and were blamed on terrorists based in Pakistan. But the visit last month of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to India has raised hopes the nuclear-armed rivals are eager to revive ties in sports, trade and travel.
Cricket, the major sport in both countries, was discussed between Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, with Singh passing information on to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). After the talks, the BCCI gave the green light to Pakistan's domestic Twenty20 champions Sialkot Stallions to take part in October's Champions League.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf and chief operating officer Subhan Ahmed - who toured India to watch the final of the Indian Premier League on Sunday - have raised hopes of an imminent breakthrough.
Misbah, 38, played down reports in local media that players were not satisfied with pay rises awarded by the PCB last week, after a delay of five months. "Pakistan cricket is improving and such reports to create controversies are not good for us," said Misbah.
The PCB upped players' monthly salaries by 25 per cent and match fees by 10 per cent. "I think it must be welcomed as the PCB is not earning much because of no international cricket in the country," said Misbah.
Pakistan has not hosted any major international cricket since gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in 2009.
Misbah and the rest of the one-day team fly to Colombo on Saturday for the series against Sri Lanka. Pakistan's Twenty20 squad is already in Hambantota where the first of two matches will be played on Friday.