LAHORE  - The BCCI has invited Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf to watch the IPL final to be played in Chennai on May 27. Ashraf confirmed that he received the invitation from the Indian board a few days ago.

“I see the invitation as another positive step forward in further normalising bilateral cricket ties between the two countries,” Ashraf said. “The invitation will allow me to undertake a two-day visit to India and I plan to use this visit to have informal discussions with the Indian board officials regarding enhancing chances of restoring bilateral cricket ties.”

Recently, the BCCI had announced that it had no objection to the participation of Pakistan T20 title-holders Sialkot Stallions in this year’s Champions League Twenty20 tournament, a move welcomed by the PCB.

“We want to play India regularly in bilateral matches and we are willing to talk to them at every level to achieve this,” Ashraf said. “I will be speaking to them on this when I go to India.”

The PCB had been pushing for the inclusion of a side from Pakistan, the only major Test-playing nation to not have had teams in the CLT20 since its inception. Sialkot were invited to the inaugural edition of the tournament towards the end of 2008, but it was put off after the terror attacks in Mumbai in November that year.

Those attacks strained political relations between India and Pakistan and, subsequently, bilateral cricketing ties between the two countries were severed. Pakistan players - with the exception of Azhar Mahmood (who also has a British passport) this year - have not been a part of the IPL since.