Sports Reporter

NEW DELHI: The Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), ShaharyarKhan, on Tuesday said that the stronger cricketing nations must play weaker countries as regularly as they play each other.

"All big teams have to equally share tours with the weaker teams. Bigger teams have resources and should afford to play weaker nations as frequently as they play stronger teams," Mr. Khan said.

The PCB Chairman was apparently referring to speculation that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was planning to have lesser tours of the weaker cricketing nations. With just two days remaining for the Indian team's departure to Pakistan for a 40-day tour, Mr. Khan said there was a need to space out India-Pakistan tours.

Unlike the last time when India visited Pakistan after a gap of 15 years, there was not much of hype, as one would have expected. "In the last 12 months, India and Pakistan have played 18 matches and I think it is too much," Mr. Khan said. "If we play so frequently, the edge will be lost," he added.

Nonetheless, there has been a lot of demand for Pakistani visas from the cricket fans here. The Pakistan government has decided to issue 10,000 cricket visas, including 2,000 for those who have bought match tickets through the internet, Mr. Khan said.

Mood upbeat

He said that this time around he expected more crowds at the stadium than it was last year. "We have beaten England thoroughly and hence the mood is upbeat," said Mr. Khan.

On Pakistan captain Inzamam ul-Haq's comments that India had the edge, Mr. Khan said he would go with the skipper. "But I feel this time both the teams are evenly balanced after having won respective home series'," said Mr. Khan.

About the security arrangements, Mr. Khan said that after having visited Pakistan last year Indian cricketers should not have any issue on this front. "We'll do our best to provide best possible security to the Indian team," he added.

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