The Pakistan-India cricket series seems to be happening after all – not in UAE, not in India, but in Sri Lanka. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has permitted the team to play next month, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) sources said on Thursday. Pending a few formalities and a public statement of assent by the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Indian government, the teams are set to play three One Day Internationals (ODI) and two T20s in the mid of December. Cricket enthusiasts would be overjoyed to hear that the much anticipated contest has not been canceled, but the compromise required to make that happen leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

To date, the BCCI has given no official reason for not playing the series in UAE according to the agreement signed by them. Even the unofficial reasons – such as security concerns – are not fleshed out or presented with conviction. The fact remains that Pakistan is changing venues just because India does not feel like playing in the UAE. Moreover, the final compromise cedes too much to the BCCI.

UAE was chosen as Pakistan’s ‘home’ ground because it already contains a sizeable Pakistani expatriate population, is convenient for travel from Pakistan, and its Arab culture contains parallels to Pakistan – none of the features that will be present in Sri Lanka. In UAE Pakistan supporters would have been in the majority, in Sri Lanka – which is closer to India – the balance will be skewed in favour of the ‘visiting’ team. Empty stadiums, and the lack of support, have plagued the Pakistan team’s recent matches, playing India in UAE could have filled them; now the team faces the prospect of playing another ‘home’ series on foreign soil, in front of a foreign crowd supporting the other team.

The support is not the only factor that should have been considered by the PCB. No test matches are being played in the shortened series, Pakistan’s strongest format, in which it currently is ranked number two. Furthermore, Pakistan’s familiarity with the UAE pitches and conditions will be useless in Sri Lanka, neutralising the one great advantage a home series has – mastery of the conditions.

At the end of the day Pakistan may not be playing in India, but it is certainly not playing a home series either. Pakistan has been strong-armed into accepting a shortened series in a different venue so that India can quickly finish it and move on to the much lucrative tour of Australia. The revenue generated by the series will surely bolster the coffers of the PCB, but so could have a series in the UAE or a suit against the BCCI for breach of contract.