ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday allowed national cricket team to take part in the upcoming World Twenty20 to be held in India from March 8.

The permission was given in response to letter of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan, seeking permission from government on playing the upcoming World T20.

The sources in the government informed that a couple of months back, the letter was written to the PM by Shahryar Khan seeking his permission on taking part in the upcoming mega cricket event in India but there was no reply to his letter. A few days back, Shahryar sent a reminder to the PM Office seeking his permission for participation in the mega event.

The 2016 ICC World T20 is scheduled to be held in India from March 8 to April 3. The matches of the tournament will be spread over seven Indian cities but Pakistan would play league matches only in Kolkata, Dharamsala and Mohali, considered to be safe ones and less under the influence of extremist Hindu organisation Shiv Sena, which is averse to normalising relations with Pakistan.

The semifinals are to be played in Mumbai and New Delhi but if Pakistan will finish among the last four, the New Delhi would host the game. The final will be played in Kolkata on April 3.

In the face of recent developments in both the countries especially after the Pathankot terror attack, the chances of Pakistan’s participating in the event further lessen, as the security concerns had already come in the way of the bilateral cricket series between the two arch cricket rivals in December last.

At that time too, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had given the permission of holding bilateral cricket series with India in Sri Lanka but due to some unknown reasons, India had backed out from even playing in Sri Lanka.

Earlier, Pakistan had offered India to play bilateral cricket series in United Arab Emirates (UAE) but Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) had refused the request and then Pakistan came with another proposal of playing the series in Sri Lanka for which the Sri Lankan Cricket Board (SLCB) had also expressed its willingness to host the series but once again India backed out.

Pakistan and India have not played a full series since 2007. India stalled bilateral series with Pakistan in the wake of 2008 terrorists' attacks on Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based across the border. But last year, both the boards had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under which they are scheduled to play six series, between 2015 to 2023, but all subject to government clearance.

PAK-INDIA WORLD T20 GAME TIPPED TO BE HIGH-SCORING: The much-awaited World Twenty20 match between arch-rivals India and Pakistan at the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium here will have a batsman-friendly pitch and is expected to be a high-scoring game, the ground's curator said.

India and Pakistan will lock horns at the HPCA Stadium, which is nestled in the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas, here on March 19 and is expected to be a high voltage clash between two former champions of the showpiece tournament. “For Twenty20s, you know how the wickets are. This one will also be the same; it will be a batsman friendly wicket. The pitch is such that it will be a high scoring game,” HPCA chief curator Sunil Chauhan said.

Chauhan further said that the condition of the pitch will not deteriorate through the course of the match but added that the outfield will be lightening quick. “For 40 overs the wicket will behave as the same. But the outfield will be fast. We are preparing it right now by using sand and organic manure. We will start preparing the pitches on February 24,” said Chauhan.

“Currently, we are preparing the outfield. If you see the ground on February 28 or 29, you will see a lush green field unlike now,” added Chauhan, pointing towards the outfield where work was ongoing. “I am 100 percent sure it will be a full house for both the matches. Both are big games and everyone is excited to see the India-Pakistan match in Dharamsala,” concluded Chauhan.

— announces cash awards for hockey team

LAHORE - Prime Minister Mian M Nawaz Sharif, who is also PHF patron-in-chief, has announced cash awards of Rs 0.5 million to each member of the winning hockey team of the recently-concluded South Asian Games in India.

The hockey team played extremely well at the Indian soil and remained unbeaten throughout the South Asian Games hockey event. They also managed to beat arch-rivals India 2-1 at the group stage while in the final, they outpaced India 1-0 to win gold medal. The sterling performance of hockey team not only impressed former legends and PHF officials but also the Prime Minister who gladly announced cash awards for the gold medal winning hockey team.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) high-ups thanked the Prime Minister saying this gesture of the PM spoke volumes for his love and passion for the game of hockey. “The PHF assures each and every lover and supporter of hockey that it will leave no stone unturned in promoting and reviving the game of hockey in Pakistan. We need continued support, guidance and sincere wishes of all,” they added.