COLOMBO -  Sri Lanka's cricket authority said Monday it will go ahead with its tour of Pakistan later this month for the third and final Twenty20 match despite security concerns expressed by several players.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said its executive committee agreed unanimously that the October 29 match in Lahore should go ahead as scheduled following reassurances of the best possible security. The board said it "confirmed its commitment to play the third T20" in Lahore following assessments made by both Sri Lankan and Pakistan government authorities, independent security experts and the International Cricket Council. "Accordingly, the selection committee of the SLC will finalise a squad of 22 by Tuesday and announce the final 15 on Friday," the SLC said in a statement.

SLC chief Thilanga Sumathipala will accompany the team to Lahore, the statement added. The October 29 match will be the first played in Pakistan by Sri Lanka -- or any other top international team -- since militants ambushed its team bus en route to the Lahore stadium in 2009, wounding at least seven players.

A successful series against a World XI team featuring top foreign players in Lahore last month further boosted calls for cricket to return to the militancy-racked nation. Sri Lanka Cricket chief Sumathipala in August appealed for an end to Pakistan's isolation -- a statement welcomed by Pakistani cricket officials -- and urged countries to come to play. He recalled that several Test nations did not want to visit Sri Lanka at the height of the Tamil separatist conflict, when bombs were exploding in the capital in the mid-1990s, but Pakistan and India had toured Sri Lanka at the time.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi also confirmed that Sri Lanka will visit Pakistan to play a Twenty20 international match here at the Gaddafi Stadium on October 29.

“The Sri Lankan side will be playing the third and the last T20 of the ongoing series at Lahore as earlier announced,” he confirmed this while talking to media here on Monday at Allama Iqbal airport on his return from Auckland on Monday morning after attending ICC meeting.

The PCB chief said Sri Lankan team short visit will be followed by the visit of the West Indies team in October for three T20 matches. “We have started our preparations to host the Lankan side in the same way we hosted the World XI last month and we look tour to the tour of the Lankan side to have international cricket in Pakistan,” said Sethi.

He said on the sidelines of the ICC meeting he had productive talks and meetings with the officials of the SLC who have granted permission to their side to visit Pakistan. It may be mentioned here that ten contracted players of the Sri Lankan side has asked their cricket board to shift the T20 game at natural venue, instead of Lahore.

To a question, he said the PCB is engaged in a legal battle against the BCCI for not fulfilling its commitment regarding bilateral series between the two countries. “Insha Allah, we will be winning this case as India signed a MOU on bilateral series and then backed out of it due to which we suffered huge financial losses and we want compensation in this regard,” he said.

 

 

AFP