Pakistan's Mohammad Amir and India's Shikhar Dhawan during the Asia Cup ODI in Dubai in 2018. Image Credit: AP

Former England captain Michael Atherton believes the chances of India and Pakistan contesting in a bilateral cricket series are minimal at the moment, which according to him is a “great shame”.

While the two countries have faced each other numerous times in multi-nation tournaments organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC) or the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), India and Pakistan have not faced each other in a bilateral series since Pakistan’s 2012/13 tour of India for two T20Is and three ODIs.

The last time the two sides played a Test series against each other was when Pakistan toured India for a three-match series in 2007/08.

“I think the chances of India and Pakistan playing each other outside of ICC tournaments, even at a neutral venue, are minimal at the moment,” said Atherton, who visited Pakistan earlier this year to film the Sky Sports Cricket documentary ‘Out of Exile’.

“They seem as far apart as ever from playing each other which is a great shame because it would be the one thing that would give Test cricket a massive boost,” he added.

The two Asian giants last faced each other in the 2019 World Cup at the Old Trafford in Manchester when Virat Kohli’s men thrashed Pakistan in the round-robin game.

“Pakistan vs India games are unbelievable affairs as we saw at Old Trafford in the World Cup last year,” said Atherton.

“I think there were around 600,000 applications for tickets for a ground that holds 25,000.”

Meanwhile, Wasim Akram has said that England owe Pakistan a reciprocal tour after Azhar Ali’s men travelled for three-Test series to the United Kingdom amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as the second Test in Southampton stuttered to a draw on Monday.

Pakistan are currently involved in the Test series in England following which the two teams will contest in three T20s as well.

“You boys owe Pakistan cricket, and the country, a lot, with the boys coming over here. They’ve been here almost two and half months in the bio-secure environment,” Akram told Sky Sports Cricket. “So if everything goes well, England should tour Pakistan. I promise you they’ll get looked after on and off the field there and every game will be a packed house.”

England have not toured Pakistan since 2005-06 over security concerns following the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore. The Three Lions are, however, scheduled to tour the country in 2022.

Akram further said that English players have enjoyed their time in the Pakistan Super League and hopes a full international tour will follow.

“The English players were there for the Pakistan Super League in our team, Karachi Kings — Alex Hales and Chris Jordan. They loved it, they enjoyed it, they got looked after beautifully, so the PSL is a step in the right direction,” the former Pakistan skipper said.

“There is a lot more to see in Pakistan than cricket and players might be frustrated staying in the hotels all the time but hopefully next year we can let them go out to cinemas and shopping centres, while there is also a lot of history in Pakistan,” he added.