Sri Lanka sports minister says Pakistan tour is on (Lead)

December 24th, 2008 - 9:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Dec 24 (IANS) Clearing all doubts, Sri Lanka sports minister Gamini Lokuge said Wednesday that the tour of Pakistan by the country’s cricket team “is almost on as scheduled”. Lokuge, who Tuesday dissolved the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) interim administration led by former cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga, told IANS that next month’s tour of Pakistan “is 90 percent on”.

“I can tell you that our tour of Pakistan is 90 percent on. But I am taking up the issue with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the foreign ministry to discuss mainly the security related situation there,” Lokuge told IANS.

The then SLC administration of Ranatunga Friday said it had formally accepted Pakistan’s invitation to undertake a full tour in January to fill in for India who cancelled its scheduled tour in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attack. India were scheduled to play three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 match.

The SLC while accepting Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) request for the tour said it was “basically Sri Lanka supporting Pakistan as a neighbour”.

The SLC, however, said that it had already requested the PCB to send a report on the security situation as it had been the reason for some cricket playing nations refusing to tour Pakistan.

Lokuge has now appointed his ministry secretary S. Liyanagama, as the head of the cricket until a fresh interim committee is appointed. According to sources, the new interim committee is likely to be announced early next week.

The sacking of Ranatunga and his committee follows a running battle between him and some of the board members and with Lokuge.

However, Ranatunga, better known as ‘Captain Cool’ has rejected all allegations levelled against him and said he came forward to serve SLC due to popular demand.

“I only wanted to make the SLC a clean place and serve cricketers. I did not go there to do any politics,” Ranatunga was quoted as saying by Daily News.

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