Sri Lanka team to tour Pak­istan in Septem­ber in first visit since 2009 at­tack

The Miracle - - Sports -

Sri Lanka’s cricket board has ap­proved a tour to Pak­istan, eight years af­ter a deadly mil­i­tant at­tack on the team brought top in­ter­na­tional games in the coun­try to a stand­still, of­fi­cials said on Mon­day. Sri Lanka Cricket chief Thi­langa Su­math­ipala said that af­ter a se­cu­rity as­sess­ment, the team had been cleared to play three Twenty20 in­ter­na­tion­als, in­clud­ing “at least one” in La­hore — the scene of the 2009 at­tack which left eight peo­ple dead. Any tour would re­quire gov­ern­ment ap­proval be­fore the team is sent abroad. Lead­ing cricket na­tions have shunned play­ing in Pak­istan since the 2009 as­sault, in which gun­men am­bushed the Sri Lankan team bus en route to the La­hore sta­dium, wound­ing at least seven play­ers. “We have had our se­cu­rity ex­perts visit and make an as­sess­ment things look pos­i­tive with im­prove­ment all over the coun­try and es­pe­cially with La­hore be­ing cleared,” Su­math­ipala was quoted as say­ing in a state­ment. “We have three T20 games com­ing up against Pak­istan in Septem­ber and we would like to play at least one of those games in La­hore,” he added. Since 2009, the only in­ter­na­tional team to visit Pak­istan is Zim­babwe, who played five lim­ited-overs games in La­hore in 2015. Pak­istan play their “home” in­ter­na­tion­als in the United Arab Emi­rates. But there were hope­ful signs when Pak­istan suc­cess­fully staged the fi­nal of the Pak­istan Su­per League — the rest of which was played in UAE ─ un­der heavy se­cu­rity in Head Of­fice: 9356-34th Ave March. Ad­dress­ing the Asian Cricket Coun­cil in Colombo at the week­end, Su­math­ipala called for an end to Pak­istan’s iso­la­tion and urged coun­tries to play there. He re­called that sev­eral top 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. “Sri Lanka suf­fered through three decades of ter­ror­ism and war and at one stage, no one wanted to come here ─ Pak­istan stood by us then, as did In­dia,” Su­math­ipala said.Sri Lanka ended its long-run­ning eth­nic war in May 2009 when the top Tamil rebel lead­er­ship was wiped out in a mil­i­tary of­fen­sive that sparked al­le­ga­tions that 40,000 Tamil civil­ians were killed by troops. The Sri Lankan board state­ment also quoted Pak­istan Cricket Board chief Na­jam Sethi say­ing that they had set up state-of-the-art se­cu­rity and sur­veil­lance to com­bat crime and make their cities safe. Speak­ing to Dawn-News upon his re­turn from Colombo, Sethi said that he was grate­ful for the de­ci­sion made by Su­math­ipala to sup­port Pak­istan’s ef­forts to bring in­ter­na­tional cricket back to the coun­try. Sethi said that he had held “fruit­ful talks” with Su­math­ipala on the side­lines of the Colombo sum­mit and added that prepa­ra­tions to stage one or two T20 matches in La­hore will be­gin soon. “Once Sri Lanka has toured Pak­istan, the door will be open for safe pas­sage of other teams to the coun­try,” he said. www.dawn.com/

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