The final ODI between Pakistan and South Africa has been shifted to Lahore from Karachi following security concerns raised by the tourists.
"The fifth ODI will now be played at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore on 29th October,"
read a statement from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). "The venue was changed on the request of the South African team management.
"On the request of the PCB, the South African team management sent one of their security officers to Karachi yesterday who held meetings with various offices of the government of Sindh. Despite all assurances given to the security officer, he felt that playing in Karachi was not feasible for the moment."
South Africa avoided playing in Karachi on their previous tour in 2003, but played a warm-up game and a Test this time, staying in the city for over ten days. But the twin suicide bombs targeted at Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister, that killed 140 people and injured hundreds more last Thursday made the situation uncomfortable for South Africa.
Logan Naidoo, the South African manager, said,
"We deeply regret this decision especially for the people of Karachi for having deprived them of this opportunity but unfortunately the members of the South African contingent are not comfortable traveling to Karachi. After consulting with Cricket South Africa back home, we would like the venue to be shifted to some other city."
Naidoo added that this does not rule Karachi out as a venue for future tours.
"We have already played two matches in Karachi during the current tour and hope to play there on our next tour as well."
The decision is a significant one for the status of Karachi as a venue with Australia due to tour the country in March next year for the first time in a decade. The city has only recently started hosting international matches again; following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, a number of tours to Pakistan were cancelled. When cricket eventually returned, visiting teams avoided Karachi in particular.
But India's decision to play an ODI at the venue on their ground-breaking 2004 tour gradually signaled a return to the international fold. Since then India and the West Indies have played Tests there, while England played an ODI in 2005.
The PCB expressed its disappointment at the decision and reiterated that Karachi was safe to hold any international event.