Karachi set to host Australia games

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

KARACHI: Pakistan are planning to stick to an itinerary similar to the one involving last year’s home series against South Africa while preparing the schedule for the much-awaited series against Australia starting in March.

A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official told ‘The News’ that the board is planning to keep the three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 international which Australia are scheduled to play against Pakistan at the major centres of the country.

“We are likely to finalise an itinerary similar to the one that involved South Africa (last year),”
said Shafqat Naghmi, PCB’s Chief Operating Officer. South Africa played the two-match Test series against Pakistan in Karachi and Lahore. Karachi was also scheduled to host a one-day game but it was shifted to Lahore because of security concerns.

Lahore ended up hosting three of the five matches while the other two games of the one-day series were played in Faisalabad and Multan.
“It is expected that Karachi and Lahore will host the Tests while the third one will be played either in Faisalabad or Multan. The one-dayers will more or less be played at the same centres,”
he said.

Earlier, PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf had told reporters that the board will ensure that Karachi will figure on Australia’s tour schedule. He said that Karachi has been included as a venue in the tentative itinerary of what will be Australia’s first tour of Pakistan in ten years. The schedule is to be finalised next month following consultations with Cricket Australia (CA).

“We haven’t finalised an itinerary yet — that will be done within the next month,”
said Ashraf.
“Karachi is on the tentative itinerary that we have prepared.”
Karachi has often missed out on international cricket due to security concerns. However South Africa, who had refused to play in the city in 2003, spent a big part of their last year’s tour here and played a practice game and a Test match here.

Ashraf said that the Australians should tour Pakistan because they have an obligation to fulfil.
“As the world’s number one team, the Australians have a responsibility to fulfil and we believe they must come to Pakistan,”
he said.

The Australians are reluctant to tour Pakistan because of safety fears. But Ashraf said that Pakistan was as safe as any other part of the world.
“Anything can happen anywhere. During the Ashes series of 2005, the 7/7 bombings happened and the tour went on,”
Ashraf said.
“The same should happen here in Pakistan,”
he added.

The PCB chief said that he had a “fruitful” meeting with Australia’s High Commissioner in Islamabad.
“I met the Australian HC last week and have assured top-level security for the Australian team. The president-elect of the ICC David Morgan (of England) has also urged the Australians to tour Pakistan, so we are hopeful that the tour would go on according to schedule.”

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