The world’s two greatest cricket rivals, India and Pakistan, have not played a head-to-head series since 2012, but that is all set to change in December of 2015, when the two neighboring countries with a long history of political and military conflict meet again, this time in the United Arab Emirates, cricket authorities in Pakistan and India announced on Sunday.
Pakistan has not hosted a home series in Pakistan against any other nation since 2009, due to security concerns after terrorists attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team. Pakistan will be considered the host of the December series in the UAE, however.
“Let me tell you, the India-Pakistan series is more important than any series in world cricket, It is even more important than the Ashes,” asserted Pakistan Cricket Board Chair Shahryar Khan. “During the India-Pakistan World Cup clash in Adelaide, the tickets were sold out within 20 minutes, such is the craze of this series.”
The February 15 One Day International match in Australia, though it was only an early group stage game in the Cricket World Cup, reportedly drew a worldwide television audience estimated at 1 billion viewers. When the two met in the semifinals of the 2011 World Cup, that broadcast drew an estimated 400 million.
The December series will be an extensive one — and is just the first of five head-to-head series that will take place over the next eight years under an agreement signed between the PCB and Board of Cricket Control for India late last year.
The UAE series will consist of three Test Matches, five ODI matches and two T20 internationals.
The only possible obstacle to making the monumental series happen is approval from the governments of both countries.
“We are very hopeful of reviving the series. Only few things need to be sorted out and obviously without common support we cannot go forward. Without the support of the home ministry and government we can’t go forward,” said BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Since India was partitioned into two countries, the largely Hindu India and the Muslim Pakistan, in 1947, the two countries have engaged in a bloody series of border conflicts, including three major wars in 1947-48, 1965, and finally 1971, when a Pakistani civil war led to the creation of the independent country of Bangladesh, drawing India into the conflict, as well.
But one thing the countries have in common is a devotion to the sport of cricket. Pakistan has the edge in the longstanding rivalry, winning 12 Test Matches to India’s nine with 38 draws or no-results — and 72 wins in ODI matches to 51 for India.
[Image: Morne de Klerk/Getty Images]