New Delhi: Pakistan hockey team will step into India for a five-match series beginning April 5, which will end the seven-year hiatus of bilateral series between the two archrivals.
The tour will see Pakistan take on India in five matches in Ranchi, Lucknow, Delhi, Mohali and Jalandhar from April 5 to 15 - followed by India travelling to Pakistan for a return series from April 23 to May 2. The five matches in Pakistan will be played in Lahore, Faisalabad, Karachi and Sialkot; however, India's travel awaits approval from the Ministry of External affairs.
Since the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India had suspended all sporting ties with their estranged neighbours, but the ice was broken by the Pakistan cricket team's India visit in December last year.
Officials from the two federations - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and Hockey India (HI) - met on the sidelines of an Asian Hockey Federation meeting in Malaysia last week, where the tours were okayed.
"It will help both the countries and will give fans of both the countries a good opportunity to witness exciting hockey," PHF secretary, Asif Bajwa, said at a press conference.
Nine Pakistan hockey players were forced to return from the just concluded Hockey India League (HIL) after protests against their participation following flare-up of tension between the armed forces at the Line of Control. But HI General Secretary, Narinder Batra, allayed fears of similar problems during Pakistan's full-fledged tour. "It's a big step forward for both the countries. It's crucial we look at its importance from hockey's point of view and we hope there will be no such problems."
The last Indo-Pak bilateral series was played in 2006 when each country hosted three matches. Pakistan won three, while India could win just one match. The other two matches ended in a draw.