Sri Lanka eye return to Pakistan | Sri Lanka vs Pakistan match on 26 February
Sri Lanka eye return to Pakistan: Pakistan’s cricketing isolation could end in October if Sri Lanka, who were targeted in a deadly terror attack in Lahore two years ago, agree to tour the troubled country.
Sri Lankan officials said Wednesday they were in talks with the International Cricket Council’s Pakistan Task Team (PTT) to explore the possibilities.
“We are still discussing the option with the ICC and with all the other board members,” said Sri Lanka Cricket chairman Somachandra de Silva.
“There are still some security concerns in Pakistan but if things improve, and Pakistan is a brotherly nation, we can consider it – all depends on the ICC’s clearance,” De Silva said.
Sri Lanka are scheduled to tour Pakistan in October this year under the Future Tests Programme.
According to reports in the Pakistani media, the governments of both countries are already in talks to hold the series in Pakistan.
The attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus on March 9, 2009, killed eight people and injured seven Sri Lankan players as well as their assistant coach, leading to the suspension of all international cricket in Pakistan.
Barely a month later, the ICC stripped Pakistan of its share of World Cup matches, forcing the team to play all their Group A matches in Sri Lanka, co-hosts with India and Bangladesh.
The suspension also meant Pakistan have been forced to play their home series in the United Arab Emirates, England and New Zealand for the last two years.
The ICC formed the Pakistan Task Team (PTT) with England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke to find ways of reviving international cricket in Pakistan and to help improve the disciplinary situation.
Even before the Lahore attacks, Pakistan was a no-go area for international teams because of security fears sparked in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States which sparked a “war against terror” in and around the country.
Australia have not toured Pakistan since 1998, forcing Pakistan to play their home series in Sri Lanka and Sharjah in 2002 and in England last year.
Pakistan was also stripped of the right to host the 2008 Champions Trophy after Australia, South Africa and England refused to tour, forcing the ICC to move the tournament to South Africa, held in 2009.
Meanwhile, De Silva said he hoped Hambantota will become a major cricket venue in Sri Lanka.
“It was only Colombo for the last two decades, but with Hambantota coming up for the World Cup matches we have brought cricket to the poor people and we will develop this,” said the 68-year-old former Sri Lanka international.
De Silva said the stadium – which became one-day cricket’s 177th venue when Sri Lanka played Canada on Sunday – will also host a Test against Australia.
“We have decided to stage a Test in Hambantota against Australia when they tour in July this year and also one or two one-dayers in the same series. There is an option of staging World Twenty20 matches next year,” said De Silva.
Sri Lanka will host the fourth edition of World Twenty20 next year.