Lahore: Hailing the decision of the Champions League T20 Organising Committee, which includes BCCI, to invite Pakistan's Sialkot Stallions in the qualifying stage of the tournament, PCB chief operating officer Subhan Ahmed said this could be the first step towards the revival of bilateral ties with India. Pakistan's domestic T20 champions got an official invitation from the organising committee of the Champions League, which includes the boardS of India, South Africa and Australia, to be one of the six teams to play in the qualifying stage this year. "We see this as a very positive development and since India is one of the main stake holders in the Champions League obviously it is the first step towards the revival of bilateral ties with India," Ahmed said.
Sialkot Stallions will have to compete with five other teams in the qualifying stage to grab one of the two spots available to qualify for the main round of the competition. Due to strained relations after the Mumbai terror attacks in November, 2008 India has avoided inviting either Pakistani players for the Indian Premier League or a team from Pakistan for the Champions League.
But at the Indian Cricket Board's working committee meeting two months back, it was decided to invite a team from Pakistan for the Champions League, which was initially to be held in India. Ahmed said now that an official invitation had come from the organisers, the executive coordination committee of the PCB would discuss it on July 4. "Pakistan have a very strong T20 domestic base and obviously we were always keen to have representation in the Champions League," Ahmed said.
The cricket boards of India, Australia and South Africa jointly own and operate the Champions League, which is a tournament contested by the domestic T20 champions from Test playing nations.
Sialkot Stallions a team led by Pakistan's former captain and allrounder Shoaib Malik are the reigning national and super eights T20 champions. "This is going to be interesting playing the qualifiers in South Africa. We have been looking forward to get a chance to play in this elite competition and it is good news for us," Malik said.
The Sialkot side includes some star players like Imran Nazir, Rana Naved, Shakil Ansar, Abdul Rehman, Reza Hasan, Shahid Yousuf.