ICC chief backs Pakistan to host Champions Trophy

June 18th, 2008 - 11:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Lahore, June 18 (IANS) International Cricket Council (ICC) president Ray Mali Wednesday backed Pakistan to host the eight-nation Champions Trophy in September and allayed security fears expressed by some players. Mali was leading a 10-member ICC delegation here to launch the tournament logo and begin the countdown of the Champions Trophy beginning Sep 11.

“Pakistan has a safe and secure atmosphere to host international cricket. At the moment, we see no reason for teams not to play here,” he said.

“The Asia Cup is to be held here later this month and the successful conduct of the tournament will go a long way in quelling security fears.”

The Federation of International Cricketers Associations, Australian Cricketers’ Association and New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association have expressed concerns about safety and security of players in Pakistan.

But Mali hailed Pakistan as “a great host to a great tournament” as he began the countdown to this year’s Champions Trophy.

“Pakistan has the venues, of course, but more importantly, it also has the passion to do real justice to what we at the ICC believe will be a superb event,” he said at the tournament’s launch.

“We all know just how important the game of cricket is to countless numbers of people in this country - and come September the whole world will get the chance to see Pakistan’s love of and hunger for the game first hand.

The event will be staged at three venues - Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi - and will have 15 matches in 18 days.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Nasim Ashraf was equally enthusiastic at the prospect of hosting the tournament. It will be the first time Pakistan will stage an ICC event since 1996 when it acted as a joint host of the ICC Cricket World Cup along with India and Sri Lanka.

“This being the first ICC event to be held in Pakistan for 12 years, we are excited and committed to making it the best-ever for the participating teams as well as for all the spectators who will be travelling to Pakistan in September.”

This year’s tournament will have two groups. Group A includes defending champion Australia, India, Pakistan and the West Indies, while South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England are in Group B.

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