Sri Lanka tour of Pakistan to go ahead as planned

Sri Lanka’s tour of Pakistan will go ahead after SLC confirmed that the Pakistan government had “reaffirmed” its desire to provide the Sri Lanka team with the same level of security afforded to visiting heads of state.

“The Pakistan High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, on behalf of the Pakistan Government, has reaffirmed to the Sri Lankan government Pakistan’s desire to provide the Sri Lankan National Team with the same level of security as that provided to a head of state,” SLC Secretary Mohan De Silva stated.

The tour had been thrown into serious doubt last week after a warning of a terror attack on the Sri Lankan team was received by the Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s Office. Following this, SLC deferred any fresh security assessment to the Sri Lankan government.

The PCB, thereafter, engaged the Pakistan government, which wrote to the Sri Lankan government assuring head-of-state-level security to the visiting team. It is understood that the Pakistan high commissioner to Sri Lanka was actively in touch with the Sri Lankan defence secretary as part of confidence-building.

An SLC release said Sri Lanka’s ministry of defence had confirmed that it had received no information “through any Intelligence Agency indicating a threat to the Sri Lanka National Team or to the said tour” and that “no information has been received by the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Pakistan, indicating a threat to the Sri Lanka National Team or to the said tour.”

The release detailed that the letter from the Pakistan government had made these assurances: that “[The] Government of Pakistan will ensure highest consideration of security to [the] visiting cricket team”, “[The] Pakistan Army will coordinate the security arrangements” and “Security protocol will be compatible to [a] Head of State.”

Before news of the possible terror threat emerged, SLC had been happy with its own security assessments, and had committed to the tour, announcing ODI and T20I squads shorn of ten prominent names who had refused to travel to Pakistan.

Through all the uncertainty, Pakistan have continued working towards their preparation for the series, naming 20 probables for the series, settling on their team-management group, and reaffirming their faith in their captain Sarfaraz Ahmed. The PCB had also issued visa supporting letters for the Sri Lankan players and officials. Arrangements at the stadiums have also been beefed up, and tickets for the matches will go up for sale starting tonight.

The PCB had refused to shift the series to a neutral venue, with chairman Ehsan Mani reiterating his confidence in Pakistan hosting Sri Lanka later this month.

With this series going ahead, Pakistan will be hosting their longest bilateral series in a decade. The National Stadium in Karachi will host the ODIs, while the T20Is will be held at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. These will be the first ODIs to take place in Pakistan since Zimbabwe toured for a three-match ODI series in 2015; all the international cricket here since the 2017 PSL final has been in the form of T20Is.

GMT 1410 The story has been updated with information from SLC’s press release.

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