Thu, Dec 25, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Pakistan fight to save tour after Sri Lankan overhaul

SAFETY FIRSTPakistan have not played a Test in more than a year, with opponents declining invitations or pulling out because of security fears

AGENCIES , DHAKA AND KARACHI, PAKISTAN

Pakistani cricket officials will meet with their new Sri Lankan counterparts later this week in a bid to salvage their planned home series following the sacking of the country’s interim cricket board.

Pakistani representatives will hold talks during the Asian Cricket Council meeting in Kuala Lumpur, where they hope to convince Sri Lanka to go ahead with the tour amid concerns it will be scrapped by the new administrators.

The president of the Sri Lanka cricket interim committee, Arjuna Ranatunga, last week confirmed a tour to Pakistan from Jan. 20, but he and his team were fired by the country’s sports minister Gamini Lokuge on Tuesday.

Media reports quoted Lokuge as saying all decisions taken by Ranatunga would be reconsidered, throwing into doubt the scheduled tour, arranged after India aborted their trip to Pakistan in the wake of the recent Mumbai militant attacks.

Saleem Altaf, chief operating officer of the Pakistan board, said: “Right now it is their internal matter so we don’t want to panic but we want to ensure the tour goes on.”

“We badly need to have an international series at home. We are keen on hosting Sri Lanka even though we will not make much money,” he said. “It is important to have Test cricket in our country.”

Pakistan have not played a Test in over a year, with opponents declining invitations or pulling out due to security fears after a series of suicide bombings in the country.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene hopes his deputy Kumar Sangakkara will be ready to solve their top order batting woes when they face Bangladesh in the first Test in Dhaka starting tomorrow.

Sangakkara had a cut in his right foot and has been struggling to wear shoes since Sri Lanka arrived in Dhaka last week to play the two-match Test series and a tri-nation one-day tournament involving Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

Sangakkara, who was the highest run-getter in Tests against Bangladesh with 707 runs until he was recently dethroned by South African captain Graeme Smith, also missed Sri Lanka’s only warm-up game that ended on Tuesday.

“He is healing quickly and looks okay now. Hopefully he will be ready before the first test starts,” Jayawardene told reporters.

Jayawardene wants Sangakkara to be back to give his top order batting line up solidity as it looked vulnerable in a warm-up game against the Bangladesh Cricket Board XI.

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