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Wednesday Aug 07 2019

PCB hopeful to host Test as Sri Lanka delegation assesses security in Karachi

KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has become hopeful to resume Test Cricket in Pakistan this year with a high-level delegation of Sri Lanka Cricket assessing the security arrangements in Karachi ahead of the former world champions' proposed tour.

The PCB had earlier invited the Sri Lankan cricket team to come to Pakistan this October and play two Test matches; if all goes well, it would be the first full Test series in the country since 2009.

Headed by Mohan de Silva, the SLC's honorary secretary, a four-member SLC security assessment team met with top security officials in Karachi and visited National Stadium — the proposed venue for the first Test between the two teams.

The inspector-general of police (IGP) for Sindh, Kaleem Imam, briefed the visiting delegation about the security arrangements to be made during the Test series, a spokesperson of Karachi police said. Sri Lanka’s counsel general in Karachi also attended the meeting.

The Sri Lankan delegation was assured during the briefing that foolproof security would be provided to the team during their visit. It included the SLC’s chief security advisor, Air Chief Marshall Roshan Goonetileke, head of international cricket, Chandima Mapatuna, and the assistant manager anti-corruption and security, Mudiyanselage Palitha Seneviratne.

The delegation was also briefed about training facilities at the National Stadium.

The PCB’s director for international cricket, Zakir Khan, as well as the head of security, Colonel Asif Mehmood, briefed the Sri Lankans about arrangements being made at the stadium for the series.

SLC Secretary de Silva told media during his visit to the stadium that Pakistan and Sri Lanka have a strong and cordial relationship. “I thank the PCB for having invited us here to carry out a security assessment.

"We had a very fruitful discussion and briefing about the arrangements being made for the test match here. They made some comprehensive presentation and we are very happy to have gone through that,” de Silva said.

The honourary secretary, while noting that the two countries had "a very strong and cordial relationship", mentioned: "You have come to our assistance a number of times and, therefore, we are conscious of the fact that we have got to honour our obligation,” he added.

The SLC head added that they were going through the briefings at the moment.

“When we go back, we will forward our report to the executive committee and, as you know, [after] the unfortunate experience of 2009, there will be a lot of concerns naturally among the players and people of our country.

"So we need to carry out [a] thorough assessment of security arrangements here also based on intelligence report and we will, thereafter, let the PCB know on how we take this forward,” he added.

The PCB is yet to host a Test match in the country ever since they were taken off the table in 2009 due to security concerns.

Things, however, have improved in the past few years and the country not only hosted the PSL games at home ground but also hosted the star-studded World XI team along with those of Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, and West Indies for series of limited-over games.

The PCB now hopes to take another step this year with the revival of Test cricket at home. “This is an important visit as we look forward to the resumption of Test Cricket in Pakistan,” a PCB spokesperson said.

The Sri Lankan delegation was set to visit Lahore on Thursday — wherein they would tour Qaddafi Stadium — for another round of briefing and presentations.