PAK v SL 2019

Is PCB going to shift Sri Lanka home series to a neutral venue?

Sri Lankan cricket team is due to visit Pakistan later this month to play three ODIs and T20Is. The Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) on Wednesday announced it would reassess the security situation in Pakistan after it received a warning from its Prime Minister’s office of a “possible ter*orist threat”.

The SLC’s fresh statement — issued Wednesday evening — has once again thrown the possibility of the Sri Lankan cricket team’s tour to Pakistan under doubt.

According to its statement, the SLC sought the Sri Lankan government’s assistance to conduct a reassessment of the security situation in Pakistan ahead of the national team’s planned tour for the September series.

The Sri Lankan cricketers were scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on September 25 to play a series of three one-day international (ODIs) matches in Karachi and three Twenty20 matches (T20Is) in Lahore.

After this statement by SLC, there were rumors that Pakistan Cricket Board is thinking to shift home series to a neutral venue but Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has ruled out all the rumors of shifting the Men in Green’s home series against Sri Lanka to a neutral venue.

The Islanders’ tour of Pakistan seemed on track but the scenario changed after the Sri Lanka Prime Minister’s Office received reliable information of a possible terrorist threat on their team, while touring Pakistan.

According the sources, the PCB is closely monitoring the situation but any possible move about shifting the series to a neutral venue is out of question.

The PCB was surprised to see intelligence report because the Sri Lankan Security Delegation, which visited Pakistan last month, were satisfied with the security arrangements in Pakistan. The source further stated that, SLC is yet to file a request for reassessment of security situation in Pakistan.

The board is of the opinion that if they move the series to a neutral venue, it will put their plans about permanently bringing international cricket to Pakistan in jeopardy.

The PCB also believes that such a decision will make it difficult to convince foreign players to tour Pakistan, for the upcoming Habib Bank Limited (HBL) Pakistan Super League (PSL), as well.

The Ehsan Mani-led administration has already taken a decision about shifting entire HBL PSL to Pakistan, while it also has to host Bangladesh, next year.

Bearing this in mind, the home series against Sri Lanka is of significant importance as it will pave the path towards future international matches on home soil.

It must be noted that Sri Lankan security forces failed to act on warnings before the Easter suicide bombings in Colombo in May, that killed more than 250 people, which is why Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has been advised to take extreme care and ‘reassess’ the situation before embarking on the tour.

Earlier, ten Sri Lankan players, including T20I skipper Lasith Malinga and ODI captain Dimuth Karunaratne, pulled out of an upcoming tour of Pakistan citing security concerns.

The other eight who opted out were Thisara Perera, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal and Dinesh Chandimal.

Following a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus during a Test match in Lahore in March 2009, a majority of international teams have refused to tour the South Asian country.

The tour has been seen as another step towards reviving international cricket in Pakistan after years of isolation.

Sri Lankan officials and players prepare to board into a helicopter at Gaddafi Stadium after the shooting in 2009.— AP

Sri Lanka will be touring Pakistan to play three One-day Internationals (ODIs) and three Twenty20 International (T20I) matches, scheduled to take place from September 27 to October 9, 2019.

This will be Sri Lanka’s second tour of Pakistan since the 2009 attack.

The Sri Lankans returned to Pakistan for a T20I in Lahore in October 2017 with a squad led by Thisara Perera, who has decided to stay out of the tour this time.

Sri Lanka are also to play two Test matches against Pakistan, but the dates and the venue are yet to be announced.

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