Wed, Aug 16, 2006 - Page 19 News List

South Africa pull out of series opener

AP , COLOMBO

A Sri Lankan police official stands guard during a practise session at the Singhalese Sports Club in Colombo yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Sri Lanka's tri-nation cricket series with India and South Africa was in doubt yesterday after the South African team pulled out of the series opener because of jitters over a bomb blast near their hotel.

South African team spokesman Gordon Templeton said his cricket board would review whether to withdraw completely from the tournament following Monday's explosion in Colombo.

The series was scheduled to run through Aug. 29.

Sri Lanka cricket officials have sought to convince the South Africans that their team would be safe.

International Cricket Council match referee Chris Broad said that yesterday's opening match between host Sri Lanka and South Africa was canceled when the South Africans said they were not mentally prepared to play following the blast.

At least seven people, including four army commandos, were killed and several others were wounded when an auto rickshaw packed with explosives blew up near a busy shopping area in the Sri Lankan capital.

The opening match originally was scheduled for Monday, but was washed out by heavy showers that lashed Premadasa Stadium. The match initially was deferred until yesterday, but then later called off.

Sri Lankan cricket board's spokesman, Samantha Algama said the match would be rescheduled, provided the South Africans agree to continue playing in the tri-series.

South Africa's coach Micky Arthur said on Monday that the bombing "was quite close to home."

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