PAK v SL 2019

Sri Lanka optimistic about saving Pakistan tour

Sri Lanka’s cricket board remains hopeful of going ahead with its tour of Pakistan but will await the final all-clear from the defence ministry, an official said Wednesday.

Sri Lanka Cricket Secretary Mohan de Silva said he was satisfied with the security arrangements of their hosts, but reports last week of a possible ter*or attack had been referred to the defence ministry for investigation.

The Sri Lanka team was the target of an attack during a Test match in Pakistan’s Lahore in March 2009.

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

Since the attack, a majority of international teams have refused to tour the South Asian country. Sri Lanka played one T20 match against Pakistan at Lahore in October 2017.

De Silva told AFP, “Earlier last month I visited Pakistan along with our security consultant and we were satisfied with the arrangements. They have promised security reserved for a head of state.”

The six-match tour, due to start on September 27, was put on hold last week after Sri Lanka’s prime minister’s office warned the board that it had unspecified information about a possible at*ack against its players.

Sri Lanka Cricket did not call off the tour but instead asked the government to reassess the security situation and make a final determination about the fate of the tournament.

And now, ICC is also set to review the security measures before the tour begins. Pertinently, ICC had not appointed neutral match officials when Zimbabwe visited Pakistan in 2015. It will be interesting to see if ICC would indirectly endorse the security arrangements in Pakistan by appointing neutral officials or let the PCB and SLC pick officials from within their own setups.

Sri Lankan cricket team is due to visit Pakistan later this month to play three ODIs and T20s. Photo: Getty Images

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has said it was not aware of any information relating to the safety of the Sri Lankan team but has reiterated its commitment to provide security.

Sri Lanka and Pakistan will play three ODIs followed by three T20Is between September 27 and October 9. Karachi and Lahore will host all the matches as PCB is desperate to bring back international to the country.

While Sri Lanka have already named two teams for the ODIs and T20Is, Pakistan will conduct a camp before announcing their squad for the series.

Ten senior players have opted out of the tour citing security concerns. Unlike most of his teammates, Lahiru Thirimanne seems determined to go to Pakistan for the upcoming limited-overs tour.

Sri Lanka stand-in One-day International (ODI) captain Lahiru Thirimanne has expressed his confidence in the security plan for the upcoming limited-overs series tour to Pakistan.

While speaking in an interview, Thirimanne said that his family is on board with his decision to tour.

“My complete focus is on cricket, not security,” he said. “SLC shared the security plan with us and we are satisfied with it. I have told the same thing to my family and they don’t have any concerns.”

“If your family doesn’t approve, it becomes difficult to take the final call. Hence, we should respect the player’s decision to pull out of the tour,” he added.

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