ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar M Khan has said that chances of Pakistan-India bilateral cricket series, scheduled to be held in December at UAE, look slim.

Talking to The Nation on late Tuesday night, Shaharyar said: “Cricketing ties between two neighbouring countries can help break the ice and it will be of more importance than only earning money. We have not played bilateral series with India since long and it will not affect us much as far as finances are concerned. We are safe as far as finances are concerned, but if the series does occur, it will certainly boost our finances, but for the time being, it looks highly unlikely the agreed series will take place in UAE.”

Shahryar said he had also talked to advisor to Prime Minister Sartaj Aziz and sought his help to use his influence in resuming Pakistan-India bilateral series. “He is working on that and hopefully soon we will hear positive development in this regard. I have also talked with BCCI regarding the claim that cricket is not possible under current highly-tensed relations and tensions at border.”

The PCB chief dropped a bombshell by revealing that Qatar was not final for holding the first edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL). “We can change the venue and the things will be finalized in next couple of days. It is huge success of the PSL that greats like Chris Gayle and Kevin Petersen have shown keen interest in becoming its part.”

He pays rich tribute to Pakistan Army’s sacrifices saying they laid down their lives in the line of duty and now, they had been witnessing much-improved overall security situation of the country. “The better and improved situation of the country is just because of sincere efforts Pakistani Army and sacrifices of soldiers for which we pay rich tribute to them.”

To a query regarding revival of international cricket in Pakistan, Shaharyar replied: “We are working closely on it and I am in contact with ICC associate member countries as they have shown keen interest in touring and playing in Pakistan. I have detailed talks with a number of countries including Scotland, Ireland and others, who have qualified for the ICC mega event. For the time being, I don’t want to reveal the exact name, but hopefully by next year, cricket-mad masses will witness another international team playing in Pakistan.”

When asked the PCB had asked Zaheer Abbas to play his role and use his influence as ICC president in convincing teams to tour Pakistan, the PCB chairman completely rubbished the claims and said: “Zaheer Abbas is the sole representative of Internal Cricket Council and we have never asked him to help Pakistan cricket. Yes, I had meetings with him, but it was just light ones, and no such things were discussed during the meeting. Being ICC president, he is bound to take all members on board and safeguard rights of all the ICC member countries.”

When asked it was grave injustice with local players to allow respective regions to include five overseas players in their playing XI, Shaharyar said: “I am not aware of that, if such is the case, then I will definitely look into it and ensure local players must be given free and fair chance in their regions.”

When asked a number of fresh faces relatively unknown players from smaller regions had shown great potential, whether they would be given chance in the Zimbabwe series or not, he promised the top performers would be given chance. “I will personally provide justice to the top performers and those who have shown talent and exceled in the event.”

When asked about Shahid Afridi’s failure during the National T20 Cup, the PCB chief termed him as a match changer and a big match player. “If Afridi fails with the bat, he shines with the bowling or fielding. Sometimes, a player doesn’t click in one or two events, but he is a class apart. I am dead sure he will bounce back in style and lead the team from the front.”

Shahryar thanked Rawalpindi crowd, organisers, patron, chairman organising committee Shakil Sheikh, Intikhab ALam and especially lauded the role of Rawalpindi Islamabad Sports Journalists Association (RISJA) for their outstanding coverage and all-out support.

On RISJA’s request to be guest of its event, Shaharyar promised to visit Islamabad and attend meet the RISJA forum as a guest. When RISJA president pointed out Shahryar that the PCB support staff had done a great job and worked day and night and deserve bonus, the PCB chairman promised that the staff would be given bonus on strong recommendation of RISJA.