Chennai, May 27 (IANS) Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf's presence as a guest for the final of the Indian Premier League-V has raised hopes for the participation of his country's cricketers in world cricket's most lucrative league from 2013.
Ashraf, who was seated beside IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla, watched the final against Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders here.
A top official in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) told IANS that Ashraf is expected to have a one-on-one meeting with board president N. Srinivasan Monday to decide on the participation of Pakistani players in the IPL.
Ashraf, who is expected to address the press, said before leaving Pakistan he was hopeful of fruitful talks with the Indian cricket authorities.
'Their invitation (to IPL final) is a strong clue that both countries are moving towards having good relations. This is rare. In the past, no such invitation was extended. So I am hopeful that I will have a good meeting with the BCCI officials,' Ashraf told reporters in Pakistan.
Pakistani players took part in the first edition of the IPL, when Sohail Tanveer emerged as the top wicket taker and played a crucial role in Rajasthan Royals winning the title.
But since then, IPL has been off-limits for the neighbour after the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai by Pakistani nationals.
After 26/11, bilateral cricketing ties between the two countries were put on hold. Besides barring Pakistani players from playing in the IPL, their champion Twenty20 team was also not invited to play in the inaugural Twenty20 Champions League in India.
But things started to change from the 2011 World Cup, after Pakistan traveled to India for the semifinal in Mohali.
Earlier this month, the BCCI said that Pakistan's champion Twenty20 team Sialkot Lions would take part in the Champions League to be held in India later this year.
And now Ashraf's visit to India for the IPL final has revived hopes of Pakistani players participation in the IPL from the next season.
All-rounder Azhar Mahmood is the only Pakistani who played in IPL-V but he was bought by Kings XI Punjab as a British citizen.