Sri Lanka ready to tour Pakistan as India’s replacement (Lead)

December 19th, 2008 - 11:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi/Colombo, Dec 19 (IANS) Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Friday accepted Pakistan’s invitation to undertake a full tour in January to fill in the place of India who cancelled its scheduled tour in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attack. “This tour has been formally confirmed today at the board meeting. This is basically Sri Lanka supporting Pakistan as a neighbour. Sri Lankan team, which is currently touring in Bangladesh, will be travelling to Pakistan on Jan 19,” SLC media manager Shane Fernando told IANS Friday.

“The schedule has not been finalised, but we are hoping that we would be playing three Test matches and five ODIs or three Test matches, three ODIs and two Twenty20 matches,” he said.

India was to tour Pakistan in January-February to play three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 match. However, the Indian government did not clear the tour in the wake of last month’s terror attacks in Mumbai, which it has blamed on terrorists based in Pakistan. This resulted in the desperate PCB sending an invitation to Sri Lanka Thursday.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief operating officer Saleem Altaf thanked Sri Lanka for agreeing to play the series.

“It’s very important for Pakistan that international cricket resumes here and we are thankful to Sri Lanka that they have accepted our invitation,” Altaf said.

SLC has already informed skipper Mahela Jayawardena and his men in Bangladesh and “they are quite happy to travel to Pakistan”.

Asked whether SLC was satisfied with the security situation as it had been the focal point for some of the cricket playing nations, Fernando said Sri Lanka has already requested the PCB to send a report on the security situation.

“I think the main reason for India cancelling the tour to Pakistan is more political than the security situation. We do not want to comment on it. Even on the previous occasion when we travelled there for the Asia Cup tournament, we were quite happy with the security arrangements there,” Fernando said.

“Once we get the security report, we will be making arrangements to travel there,” he said, adding SLC was not expecting any financial benefit from this tour, but wanted to help Pakistan “in the hour of need because Pakistan has helped us immensely in the past.”

Fernando recalled Pakistan and India had helped Sri Lanka during 1996 world cup tournament by visiting Sri Lanka when some of the teams refused to travel citing security reasons.

It is expected the tour will begin in Karachi with a Twenty20 game followed by the first ODI at the same venue. Lahore will then host the second and third one-dayers followed by the first Test.

Multan will stage the second Test and Karachi will hold the third and last Test.

The PCB was expecting to make almost $25 million dollars from the “iconic” series against India, but it will now only earn a fraction of it from the series against Sri Lanka.

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