Monday Sep 30 2019

Sri Lanka hopeful of playing Tests in Pakistan but reluctant to confirm

Sri Lankan Sports Minister Harin Fernando is impressed by security arrangements in Pakistan. — Photo: File

Karachi: Sri Lanka Cricket President Shammi Silva and Sri Lankan Sports Minister Harin Fernando have assured full support to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) but the duo was reluctant to confirm if their team would be willing to tour Pakistan in December to play two Test matches.

Talking to media in Karachi at a press conference along with PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani, the president of SLC said that they will have to talk to their top players to tour Pakistan for Test championship matches.

“SLC’s 200 per cent support is with you. You security is too tight, even I can’t go out. Sri Lanka is behind with you all, and we will support you every time,” Shammi Silva said.

“Actually, security wise we don’t need to think twice, but we have to think about Tests as we are playing Test championship and if three or four players can’t come — we still have three-four players from 2009 incident in our Test team — we will have to talk about it,” he responded when asked about confirmation on the tour by team to play Test matches in December.

However, he hoped that all the players would agree to visit Pakistan.

He said that SLC wanted to help PCB as Pakistan was looking forward to the series to show a bigger picture to the world regarding their security arrangements.

“Initially we had agreed to play only three T20Is but I spoke to my minister because you wanted to show the bigger picture to the world so we agreed to play three more matches,” he revealed.

The sports minister, however, said the ongoing tour by a young Sri Lankan team will be a confidence booster for the players ahead of the scheduled tour by the Test team.

“What matters is that players are here in Pakistan, and these players play along with the senior players as well. And, they might endorse how well the security is here and how well Pakistan has treated them and that will be a confidence booster, so this tour had to happen first if a Test series has to happen too,” said Fernando.

“What amazes me is the amount of security that has been given and how they have been looked after. Things could happen anywhere in the world and sports shouldn’t be stopped. I believe that other countries will also send their players,” he said.

“There were a few players who experienced the incident in 2009 and their decisions were made with their family's consensus. But the boys who came are also not A or B players; they’ve been mostly part of the team. They’re here and if they do well, it will put pressure on senior players and will be good for Sri Lankan cricket. So, we need to respect decisions of the senior players,” the Sri Lankan sports minister added.

The Sri Lankan minister also thanked the PCB for its historic support to Sri Lanka Cricket in the past.

He highlighted that cricket has become a symbol to express solidarity by nations.

“Cricket has become a universal game and it’s not just about the competitiveness, but it also shows solidarity among the neighboring nations,” he said.

“I want to thank PCB which sent its U19 team to Sri Lanka when things were not even settled in Sri Lanka after the Easter attack. That was an act of solidarity shown by Pakistan to Sri Lanka,” Fernando added.