Sri Lanka skipper Upul Tharanga reportedly pulls out of Lahore T20I against Pakistan | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Sri Lanka skipper Upul Tharanga reportedly pulls out of Lahore T20I against Pakistan

Sri Lanka cricket team skipper Upul Tharanga has reportedly pulled out of the Lahore Twenty20 International against Pakistan over security concerns.

cricket Updated: Oct 16, 2017 22:56 IST
HT Correspondent
Sri Lanka skipper Upul Tharanga has reportedly expressed his reservations on touring Pakistan for the Twenty20 International in Lahore over security concerns.
Sri Lanka skipper Upul Tharanga has reportedly expressed his reservations on touring Pakistan for the Twenty20 International in Lahore over security concerns. (Getty Images)

Sri Lanka skipper Upul Tharanga has reportedly withdrawn from the side for the Lahore Twenty20 International against Pakistan on October 29 due to security concerns. After playing two Tests, five ODIs and two Twenty20 Internationals in the UAE, Sri Lanka are scheduled to play a match in Lahore.

According to a Cricbuzz report, Tharanga’s reported withdrawal makes him ineligible to lead the side for the first Twenty20 Internationals as well. The report added that only Thisara Perera, Dilshan Munaweera, Ashan Priyanjan, Isuru Udana have agreed to tour the country. Perera was part of the ICC World XI side that played three Twenty20 Internationals in Pakistan.

However, despite Tharanga’s suspected withdrawal, Sri Lanka’s cricket authority said it will go ahead with its tour of Pakistan. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said its executive committee agreed unanimously that the October 29 match in Lahore should go ahead as scheduled following reassurances of the best possible security.

The board said it “confirmed its commitment to play the third T20” in Lahore following assessments made by both Sri Lankan and Pakistan government authorities, independent security experts and the International Cricket Council. “Accordingly, the selection committee of the SLC will finalise a squad of 22 by Tuesday and announce the final 15 on Friday,” the SLC said in a statement.

Security fears

The Sri Lankan Cricket Board cast doubt on the team’s return to Pakistan, saying it would study security assessments provided by both Sri Lanka and Pakistan governments as well as independent reports.

A letter has been signed by 40 Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) contracted players, including most in the current squad, to president Thilanga Sumathipala, expressing unwillingness to travel to Pakistan.

The players have said they remain uncomfortable about travelling to Lahore for the last match of the ongoing series between the two countries in the UAE.

Pakistan safe

The Sri Lankan team had come under attack from terrorists in March 2009 in Lahore, in which six Pakistani policemen were killed. That attack led to international teams refusing to tour Pakistan citing security concerns.

However, in the last couple of years, Pakistan has seen international cricket return to the country slowly. Zimbabwe played three ODIs in 2015, followed by the successful hosting of the Pakistan Super League final (PSL) in 2017 between Peshawar Zalmi and Lahore Qalandars at the Gaddafi stadium.

Recently, the ICC World XI toured Pakistan for three T20Is and this led to the PCB announcing the Sri Lanka match as well as three T20Is against two-time World T20 champions West Indies.

“We are expecting to host the Sri Lankan team after the top security provided to the World eleven side which were appreciated by the PCB Chairman,” said Najam Sethi, the head of the Board.

Sarfraz Ahmed, the captain of the Pakistan team, has said Sri Lanka should visit the country. “Their team should come. The recent World XI tour was successful, so they should not be worried. Their players did come (with the World XI), Thisara Perera came and played. Their team should visit and I hope they do come.”