For the first time in 17 years, two senior BCCI office-bearers --- president Roger Binny and vice-president Rajeev Shukla -- travelled to Pakistan and reached Lahore on Monday after crossing the Attari-Wagah border, honouring the PCB's invitation to watch Asia Cup there.
While seasoned politician Shukla urged people "not to mix politics with cricket", a beaming PCB supremo Zaka Ashraf hoped that the acceptance of invitation by the BCCI was a welcome step towards improving the relations between the two cricket boards.
BCCI bosses get warm welcome in Lahore
It was the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) management committee head Ashraf, who received the BCCI brass at the Wagah border and took them to Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore. The duo will watch a couple of Super Four Games on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The last time an Indian cricket team travelled to Pakistan was back in 2008 for the Asia Cup. Pakistan last hosted India for a bilateral series in 2006. Their cricket team last visited India for a bilateral white-ball series in 2012.
The BCCI had refused to send its team to Pakistan for the Asia Cup, which led to a bi-nation 'Hybrid Model' arrangement. But in a heartening gesture, the BCCI approved former Test player Binny and Congressman Shukla's participation in a dinner hosted by the Governor of Punjab province of Pakistan.
The 'Hybrid Model' Solution
"Pakistan is the host of Asia Cup. The visit by this delegation is purely cricketing and there is no politics involved. It is a two-day visit and the Governor of Punjab is hosting us for dinner and all three teams Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan will be present. We shouldn't mix cricket with politics," Shukla told mediapersons.
Shukla, who has been with the Indian cricket board for more than two decades, was a part of BCCI delegation that came for the historic 'Friendship Series' back in 2004.
Hopes for Future Bilateral Series
Asked about the chances of resumption of bilateral cricketing contests, the Rajya Sabha MP said: "The decision with regards to bilateral series is taken by the Indian government and we would follow whatever the government suggests."
PCB chairman Ashraf conducted an impromptu press conference with Binny and Shukla by his side.
"I thank both Mr Binny and Mr Shukla from the core of my heart for accepting our invitation. We invited and they responded and if they reciprocate by inviting us to their country, we will also accept it with all warmth. Inshallah, we will grow together," Ashraf said.