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September 20, 2019

SL to go ahead with Pakistan tour despite security fears

Sports

September 20, 2019

KARACHI: Sri Lanka’s cricket team will arrive in Pakistan next week for a limited-overs series after Sri Lanka’s cricket board announced on Thursday that it will go ahead with its tour of Pakistan despite security apprehensions.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has confirmed the trip saying that the Pakistan government had “reaffirmed” its desire to provide the Sri Lanka team with the same level of security afforded to visiting heads of state.

“The Pakistan High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, on behalf of the Pakistan Government, has reaffirmed to the Sri Lankan government Pakistan’s desire to provide the Sri Lankan National Team with the same level of security as that provided to a head of state,” SLC Secretary Mohan De Silva stated.

The tour had been thrown into serious doubt last week after a warning of a terror attack on the Sri Lankan team was received by the Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s Office. Following this, SLC deferred any fresh security assessment to the Sri Lankan government.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) decided to engage the Pakistan government, which wrote to the Sri Lankan government assuring head-of-state-level security to the visiting team. It is understood that the Pakistan high commissioner to Sri Lanka was actively in touch with the Sri Lankan defence secretary as part of confidence-building.

An SLC release said Sri Lanka’s ministry of defence had confirmed that it had received no information “through any Intelligence Agency indicating a threat to the Sri Lanka National Team or to the said tour” and that “no information has been received by the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Pakistan, indicating a threat to the Sri Lanka National Team or to the said tour.”

The release detailed that the letter from the Pakistan government had made these assurances: that “[The] Government of Pakistan will ensure highest consideration of security to [the] visiting cricket team”, “[The] Pakistan Army will coordinate the security arrangements” and “Security protocol will be compatible to [a] Head of State.”

Before news of the possible terror threat emerged, SLC had been happy with its own security assessments, and had committed to the tour, announcing ODI and T20I squads short of ten prominent names who had refused to travel to Pakistan.

Through all the uncertainty, Pakistan have continued working towards their preparation for the series. It had also issued visa supporting letters for the Sri Lankan players and officials. Arrangements at the stadiums have also been beefed up, and tickets for the matches will go up for sale starting tonight.

With this series going ahead, Pakistan will be hosting their longest bilateral series in a decade. The National Stadium in Karachi will host the ODIs, while the T20Is will be held at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. –with inputs from agencies

Match schedule:

1st ODI — Karachi, September 27

2nd ODI — Karachi, September 29

3rd ODI — Karachi, October 2

1st T20 — Lahore, October 5

2nd T20 — Lahore, October 7

3rd T20 — Lahore, October 9