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Sunday, 8 December, 2002, 17:21 GMT
Neutral grounds urged
India take on Pakistan
India have not played Pakistan in over two years
International Cricket Council (ICC) president Malcolm Gray has suggested neutral venues in a bid to see India and Pakistan resume ties.

The Indian government on Saturday refused permission for its national side to tour Pakistan next April, in the continuing dispute over the territory of Kashmir.

"How can we send the cricket team to play in Pakistan, when they are supporting terrorist activities in Kashmir?" sports minister Vikram Verma said.

But the position threatens to undermine the ICC's Test Championship, which requires each Test team to play the others every five years.

"[India] should give thought to playing at a neutral venue to break the ice," said Gray after meeting Pakistani cricket officials in Lahore.

"Sport, cricket in particular, is a great tool for people to see reason and to come together."


If our series is played at a neutral venue, then the 2004 series should also be
PCB chairman
Tauqir Zia
Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf has offered a security guarantee to any touring side, despite a spate of violent attacks on Western and Christian targets this year.

Pakistan has been forced to play series against West Indies and Australia in Sharjah after both sides objected to visiting.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had said that it would not cede home advantage again.

But PCB chairman Tauqir Zia conceded that Pakistan could give ground, as long as the reciprocal series in 2004 was also at a neutral site.

"The cross border terrorism allegation has been levelled by a politician. That can only be answered by a politician," Zia added.

The rivals last played in June 2000 in the Asia Cup Test tournament in neighbouring Bangladesh - a match won by Pakistan.

But India will take on their arch-rivals in next year's World Cup on 1 March at Centurion Park, South Africa.

Pakistan struggle to attract touring teams

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