Sri Lanka approaching Pakistan visit cautiously- Gurusinha

8 October 2017 01:31 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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ABU DHABI AFP Oct17, 2017; Sri Lankan team manager Asanka Gurusinha is confident his board will find the best way to handle a 24-hour fly-in, fly-out tour of Pakistan for a single Twenty20 match later this month.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said on Monday it will go ahead with its trip to Pakistan for the third and final Twenty20 match despite security concerns expressed by several players.

Th first two matches will be played in Abu Dhabi on October 26 and 27.

The visit would be Sri Lanka's first to Pakistan since 2009 when masked gunmen ambushed the tourists' team bus on its way to the ground during the second Test in Lahore.

The attacks killed eight people and left seven Sri Lanka players and a staff member injured, forcing international teams to stay away from Pakistan over security fears.

Gurusinha, who is with Sri Lanka on their tour of the United Arab Emirates, hoped players with concerns over the trip will look into it.

“SLC will be speaking to most of the players to find the best way to handle it,” said Gurusinha, who played 41 Tests and 147 one-day internationals as a middle-order batsman in the 1980s and 1990s.

“It seems like we will be there in Lahore only for 24 hours. We are flying in and flying out. We are hoping that some of the players who had concerns will seriously look at it (the tour).”

 Gurusinha, a member of Sri Lanka's World Cup-winning team in 1996, said it was time to reciprocate Pakistan's support prior to that tournament which came in the wake of a Colombo bomb blast that left 91 people dead and hundreds more injured.

“They (Pakistan team) came down to help us two weeks after the Central Bank bombing. Had they not come down, I am not too sure whether Kenya and Zimbabwe would have honoured World Cup fixtures in 1996,” said Gurusinha.

Australia and West Indies forfeited matches at the tournament over security fears due to the civil war in Sri Lanka against the Tamils, but a joint India-Pakistan team visited Sri Lanka to show solidarity.

India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka co-hosted the 1996 tournament.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has promised stringent security arrangements will be in place, at levels normally reserved for state heads.

Since the 2009 attacks, Pakistan has only hosted Zimbabwe for a short limited-overs series in 2015 and the final of the Pakistan Super League in March this year.

They also welcomed a World XI comprised of players from seven countries for a three-match Twenty20 series in Lahore last month.

“The security has been cleared. The team will seriously look at it and I am hopeful players will look at it favourably,” said Gurusinha.

Asked which players were willing to go ahead with the tour, Gurusinha replied: “There are a lot of positives taking place. It is not nice to name the players.

“That's what SLC is very interested in. There was positive feedback from most players.” But Sri lankan media reported limited-overs captain Upul Tharanga and fast bowler Lasith Malinga have shown reservations over travelling to Lahore.

 

  SLC confirms Lahore visit: ignores player request 

Sri Lanka Cricket today (16) confirmed its commitment to play the third and final T20 game of the ongoing Sri Lanka tour of Pakistan at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, Pakistan on the 29th of October. The decision comes days after players handed a letter requesting to change the venue due to security concerns.

“SLC have over the past two months conducted a thorough evaluation with the assistance of the Government of Sri Lanka, the Government of Pakistan, the PCB and independent Security experts," SLC said in a statement. 

"The Executive Committee today (16), evaluated the reports obtained together with the recommendation of the International Cricket Council - which successfully conducted the Independence Cup tournament in Lahore fielding a World XI Team – and having been fully satisfied with the stringent security measures in place, the SLC ExCo unanimously decided to play the 3rd T20 in Lahore on the 29th October,” release added.

A request letter signed by forty players wanted the match to be moved to UAE—Pakistan’s adopted home since 2009 or to a neutral venue.

Accordingly, the Selections Committee of SLC will finalize a squad of 22 by the 17th October, and announce the final 15 on the 20th October.

The board said SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala who will accompany the team to Lahore extended his best wishes to PCB Chairman Najam Sethi and his board on the occasion of this historic game, which is set to bring back bilateral cricket to Pakistan.

 

Lahore T20-Players wants venue change

by Champika Fernando

Lankan national cricketers have made a request to change the venue of the third and final T20I scheduled to be played in Lahore, Pakistan, citing security concerns.

A letter which was signed by forty national players wants the match either be shifted back to the UAE—Pakistan’s adopted home since 2009—or played at a neutral venue.

The players’ request comes as a rude shock to both boards who were quietly confident of ending Pakistan’s international isolation through Sri Lanka’s visit.

Sri Lanka are down to play the match on October 29 in Lahore, eight years after gunmen attacked the team bus heading to the Qaddafi Stadium where six Sri Lankan cricketers were injured.

Following the attack, all Test playing nations have refused to tour Pakistan. But the country recently hosted a World XI for a three-match T20 series in a bid to revive international cricket there. The match was played under tight security in Lahore. Sri Lankan cricketer Thisara Perera was part of the World XI team and the Sunday Times learns, he too has signed the letter.

“We made a request from the board to shift it,” a cricketer said, requesting anonymity. “But if the board decides to go ahead with it, it’s up to the individual players to decide whether or not they want to travel to Lahore.”

Sri Lanka will play their first two matches in UAE before moving to Lahore for the last match. Pakistan has promised foolproof security and desperately wants Sri Lanka’s help in its bid to revive international cricket in the country.

“We have concerns,” the player reiterated. “I think even the board understands it, but we will not force anyone to go or not go. It’s solely up to the individual players to decide.”

Even though the board agreed to the tour on principle, they have given the liberty to its players to decide.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Treasurer Shammi Silva said the board will take a final decision on Monday.

“There’s still a 60 to 70 per cent chance of traveling to Lahore,” he said. “We will make a final call on Monday.” He said a security consultant will travel to Pakistan soon to assess the situation.

Meanwhile, Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera said Sri Lanka should respond positively to Pakistan’s request as the nation has been a great friend to Sri Lanka on all fronts.

“We need to support them at this hour of need,” he maintained, adding that he would travel with the team for the Lahore match.

“I hope the match would go ahead as planned,” he continued. “There have been some concerns from players and they can opt out but we are determined to field the best available team for the match.”

Will they make it to Lahore or otherwise

Pakistan Cricket Board has promised tight, high-level security for the visiting teams and many former greats have called on all international teams to end the isolation.

Meanwhile, the ICC said it will not perform security assessments for member associations. “The security of a team is for a Member to assess and determine,” said Claire Furlong, General Manager Strategic Communications. “If a Member decides to go ahead with a tour, the ICC will then assess the situation for match officials.”

In 1995, when West Indies and Australia were threatening to boycott their first round World Cup fixtures following the Central Bank bombing two weeks before the commencement of the tournament, several Pakistan players joined Indian players for a friendly game against the hosts in Colombo to show their support. Some believe it’s time to pay back the favour.


By Champika Fernando
Even though Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has principally agreed to tour Pakistan towards the tail-end of the current series subject to security clearance, there’s a greater possibility of the match being shifted to Pakistan’s adopted home—UAE.
SLC will send an independent security expert to assess the situation later this week before a final call but whether country’s cricketers would want to take the risk remains doubtful.
Sri Lanka are down to play the third and final T20 international in Lahore on October 29, eight years after gunmen attacked the team bus heading to the Qaddafi Stadium there for the third day’s play of the second Test against Pakistan. Six Sri Lankan cricketers were injured.
“As much as we understand the need to help Pakistan at this moment, we need to grasp the mentality of the players here," said a national cricketer, on condition of anonymity. "It was our team which was directly targeted and even though most of us were not with the team at that time, the scares still haunt us. At this moment, the players are not in favour of touring Pakistan but let’s wait and see."
Suranga Lakmal, who survived the 2009 attack, recently said that he still has nightmares of the horrific incident which nearly cost his life.
“That was my first tour with the Sri Lankan team," Lakmal was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz. "I don’t like to talk about that day because I still have nightmares of that incident. I thought I was going to die that day." However, the seamer is willing to travel to Pakistan if the team takes a collective decision to do so.
Following the attack, leading teams refused to tour Pakistan but recently the country hosted a World XI for a three-match T20 series in a bid to revive international cricket there. The match was played under tight security in Lahore.
“We will be meeting ICC officials mid this week and will get their views on the current security situation in Pakistan," said CEO Ashely de Silva."If they provide a positive feedback, we will send a representative to assess the situation again before making a final decision."
At a recent press conference in Colombo, de Silva said the players would not be penalised if they decided not to travel to Pakistan but added they were contractually bound.
“As per the agreement signed with SLC they are obligated to," he said. "There is a contractual obligation. If they have concerns, they could bring it to the notice of the management but so far no one has done so."
Pakistan Cricket Board has promised tight, high-level security for the visiting teams and many former greats have called on all international teams to end the isolation.
“Pakistan has no better friend than Sri Lanka," former Pakistan skipper Waqar Younis said. "We can show that, if Sri Lanka can come--as the shooting happened at their team bus--why not others. It will send a strong message to the world. I request them to come and I can ensure, with what we have seen during World XI series, that things will be fine."
Pakistan has been a great friend of Sri Lanka. When West Indies and Australia were threatening to boycott their first-round World Cup fixtures following the Central Bank bombing two weeks before the commencement of the tournament, several Pakistan players joined Indian players for a friendly game against the hosts in Colombo to show their support. Some believe it’s time to pay back the favour.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times learns that Pakistan, who are desperate to revive cricket, are trying everything--including high-level diplomatic maneuvering--to get Sri Lanka down.   

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  • Bandula Tuesday, 10 October 2017 08:41 AM

    It will be a good move for our cricket team to be accompanied by SLC Chairman, CEO, COO and other senior management during the entire tournament in Pakistan to instill confidence in the players about security.


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