Lanka tour of Pakistan put on hold due to security fears

Karachi: The security situation in the country continues to hit Pakistan cricket, with plans to launch a premier league and invite Sri Lanka to play in a series later this year being put on hold.

Officials in the PCB have confirmed that other boards had in recent meetings in Sri Lanka made it clear that their players were reluctant to travel to the crisis—torn country for the Pakistan Premier League (PPL) Twenty20 competition because of security fears.

“Sri Lankan authorities have also conveyed that they would prefer if the future tours program series scheduled later this year in Pakistan was held at neutral venues like Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” an official said.

The Pakistan board was optimistic about Sri Lanka agreeing to at least play some limited overs games in Pakistan and the remaining matches, including Tests, in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Sri Lankan board officials had, during the World Cup, made some positive statements but at the same time, made it clear that the final decision would rest with their government.

“The position now is that even the Sri Lankan authorities are not very keen to send their players to Pakistan as the memories of the horrifying attack on their team is still fresh in the minds of the Sri Lankan people,” a source said.

Militants had attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March, 2009, injuring five players and killing at least six Pakistani policemen.

Since then, foreign teams have refused to play in Pakistan and the ICC shifted the World Cup matches from the country due to security concerns.

Sri Lanka are due to play three Tests, five ODIs and T20 matches later this year.

Sultan Rana, a PCB official, also confirmed that discussions were on to hold the proposed Pakistan Premier League in Dubai.

Rana said that the board wanted to launch its PPL series in Pakistan and plenty of groundwork had already been completed in this regard.

“But recently when we spoke to officials of other boards and even few players the message was that the time was not right for anyone to be willing to come and play the PPL in Pakistan.”

“Though there appears to be plenty of support for the PPL if it is held offshore at neutral venues,” he said.

He confirmed that the PPL was a pet project of the board but had to be shelved after the attack on the Sri Lankans.