India and Pakistan, the ICC has said, have until the end of October to play their series © IDI/Getty Images
The series between India and Pakistan’s women’s teams, which counts towards ICC Women’s Championship points, is in major doubt. The two have till the end of October to play the series, but the BCCI has not responded to the PCB’s queries on the series since May with either a confirmation or rejection. If the series is not played, an ICC spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo that the matter of how the points will be awarded will be referred to the event’s technical committee. The PCB wants India to forfeit the six points available for the series if they do not agree to play.
Pakistan is due to host India for this series, which is supposed to consist of three ODIs, and the PCB is open to holding the series in the UAE. Eight teams are part of the ICC Women’s Championship; the top four at the end of the championship, which runs over two and a half years, gain automatic entry into the 2017 Women’s World Cup in England. The bottom four will have to qualify via a ten-team qualification tournament in early 2017.
“The two sides have until the end of this month to play the series, which has to be hosted by Pakistan,” the ICC spokesperson said. “If the series doesn’t go ahead, then the matter will be referred to the Event Technical Committee.”
A BCCI official said the board has not made a decision on the matter yet, and that it would be binding on the Indian government’s call. “This is for the government to decide. The BCCI doesn’t have a say in this,” the official said. “We still have time to make a decision.”
Cricketing ties between India and Pakistan are currently stalled, given the political tensions between the neighbours. The men’s teams have not played a bilateral series against each other since December-January 2012-13, when Pakistan visited India, but had met in various multi-team tournaments since then, including the World Cup, World T20, Champions Trophy and Asia Cup. The latest Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two boards in May 2014 featured six series from 2015 to 2023, but the series which was supposed to be played last December in the UAE was shelved; then, too, the BCCI had said it was up to the government to sanction the series.
There have been two major instances of teams refusing to play matches due to non-cricketing reasons in the past, and both times those teams had to forfeit the points. In 1996 Wills World Cup, West Indies and Australia refused to send their teams to Sri Lanka due to security issues arising out of the civil war; points for both the games were awarded to Sri Lanka. In 2003 World Cup, England forfeited their match with Zimbabwe, and New Zealand forfeited their match with Kenya, both due to security concerns due to political unrest.
In the ICC Women’s Championship, India currently sit sixth on the table with 13 points five points adrift of the top four. Pakistan are seventh with eight points. If the six points for the series are awarded to Pakistan, neither side will have a chance to directly qualify for the World Cup. Pakistan Women, regardless, are set to tour New Zealand for three ODIs in Nelson from November 13 to 17, counting towards the championship. It is understood the PCB wanted to play the India series ahead of this tour.
India and Pakistan’s women’s teams are also scheduled to play the Asia Cup in Thailand between November 25 and December 5.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @kalson
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