Indian Premier League's (IPL) new commissioner Rajiv Shukla has given fresh hope to Pakistan, saying that Pakistani players could be included in the next season.
"Pakistan players are not banned to play the IPL. We have been hiring the services of Pakistan umpires and referees and there is a possibility of their players returning to the IPL. We are keeping our options open," The Express Tribune quoted Shukla, as saying.
Shukla, the senior functionary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), took over the top IPL post last week and said that the issue of recruiting Pakistan players will be discussed in future meetings, adding: "We will consider Pakistan cricketers for the 2012 IPL in our body's meetings that are held regularly."
Several Pakistan players had been part of the IPL in its initial stages, but were barred after the relations between governments of both the countries soured following the Mumbai attacks in 2008.
Since then, Pakistan cricketers have expressed their desire to play in the tournament on numerous occasions, with former captain Shahid Afridi making the latest call, which came after the World Cup semi-finals between the arch-rivals.
Meanwhile, a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official said that the fate of the country's players depends upon the revival of bilateral series between the two countries.
"It's a positive gesture. If there's a development on the bilateral series front, then the IPL and the Champions League become secondary matters," he added.