Ganguly expects Pak tour to be a learning curve

Published: Monday, November 10, 2003, 20:48 [IST]
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Bangalore: India's cricket captain Sourav Ganguly said he was delighted at the prospect of touring Pakistan early next year for a long-awaited Test series. "I am quite looking forward to it, it's going to be a big occasion," Ganguly told reporters here ahead of Wednesday's One-day clash against world champions Australia. India's first Test tour of Pakistan in nearly 15 years will take place in March- April next year, Indian cricket chief Jagmohan Dalmiya announced on Sunday.Batting star Sachin Tendulkar, who made his international debut during India's last Test series in Pakistan in 1989, is the only current Indian cricketer to have played a Test match in Pakistan.

"We have met Pakistan at neutral venues before, but playing a Test match in Pakistan will be a great experience," Ganguly said on Monday. The Indian Government banned bilateral cricket matches with Pakistan after the 2000 Asia Cup due to political tensions, but allowed the teams to play in multi-nation events like the World Cup. India played against Pakistan in the preliminary league of the World Cup in South Africa in March, a game that passed off without incident.

While India has not played a Test series in Pakistan since 1989, Pakistan toured India for three Tests in early 1999 despite threats from Hindu fundamentalists. The Tests in Chennai and New Delhi went off peacefully, but the third at Eden Gardens in Kolkata ended in front of an empty stadium after police were forced to clear the stands following crowd trouble. The schedule for next year's tour, which was cleared by the Indian Government in October, is being finalised by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in consultation with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

"We will have the details soon," Dalmiya said after returning from a meeting of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in Barbados where he discussed the tour with his Pakistani counterpart Tauqir Zia. It is expected India will play three Tests and seven One-day Internationals during the tour, which will be followed by the six-nation Asia Cup Limited Overs tournament in April in Pakistan. The Asia Cup was originally scheduled to be held in Pakistan last year, but was put off after the Indian government declined permission to its team to take part.

The tournament will be contested by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong. An Indian Under-19 team won a four-nation tournament in Pakistan this month. The Pakistan 'A' team is scheduled to visit India in December for a One-day tournament also featuring Sri Lanka.

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