Karachi: The Sri Lankan cricket board has turned down an invitation from the Pakistan Cricket Board to send its team to Lahore to play two T20 matches at the start of its home series in October.
PCB Chairman, Shaharyar Khan confirmed that after the suicide bomb attack in Lahore earlier this week, the Sri Lankan cricket authorities has refused to send their team for the T20 matches. “I had spoken to my Sri Lankan cricket counterpart during the ICC meetings and I had invited him to send his team to Lahore to play the T20 matches and start the series against Pakistan with rest of matches to be played in the UAE,” Khan said.
He said he had been given assurance by the Sri Lankan cricket head that he would speak to his government and get clearance for the matches. “I am a bit surprised at Sri Lankan’s refusal because terror attacks are happening everywhere in the world and sports events are still going on. It is unfair to just single out Pakistan for security reasons.”
Khan said the PCB had successfully held the Pakistan Super League final in Lahore in March and provided top security for the event. “The ICC and other security experts of cricket boards had come to Lahore to see for themselves the security arrangements and some shortcomings were pointed out which we promised to resolve but overall they were all satisfied with the way security was provided for the final,” he said.
It was Sri Lanka’s team which had come under attack from militants in March, 2009 in Lahore after which no top Test team has toured Pakistan because of security concerns and the PCB has been forced to hold its home series in the UAE. Recently Sri Lankan great, Kumar Sangakkara claimed that the team was sent to Pakistan in 2009 by the Sri Lankan authorities despite serious reservations expressed by the players over the security situation in Pakistan.
He has called for an inquiry to find out who was behind forcing the team to travel to Pakistan in those conditions. Khan said that Pakistan would now play two Tests in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and five one-day internationals and three T20 matches against Sri Lanka in October-November in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.
The PCB chief also conceded that after the latest terror attack in Lahore there had been no word from Giles Clarke or ICC on the planned tour by the World eleven to Pakistan from September 12. “I met Giles Clarke recently in London and we finalized the budget details and other aspects of the World eleven tour but since the attack took place we don’t know the situation. But we are confident that the tour will go ahead eventually,” he added.
Khan said that Clarke had told him that former Zimbabwean Test player, Andy Flower had been speaking to the agents of players being lined up for the World eleven tour. Khan, who is due to end his three-year term on July 31st, said he was happy to see Pakistan win the Champions Trophy at the end of his tenure. “But not being able to resume international cricket in Pakistan and the deadlock with India over bilateral series remain a disappointment for me. Because Pakistan should not be isolated like this as an international venue,” he said.