PCB finalises Karachi as venue for Australia series
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has finalised the venues for the March-April home series against Australia, which also include the troubled port city of Karachi.
Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad are the other venues for the much-anticipated tour of the world champions.
The PCB has told Cricket Australia (CA) that the three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 international in the series would be held in these four venues.
The Board has also reaffirmed to that under no circumstances would Pakistan shift the series to any other venue.
PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf told his Australian counterpart Creagh O'Connor that Pakistan was ready to scrap the tour altogether rather than shift it to some other country.
"Our stance is very clear. We want the Australians to come and play in Pakistan as planned. Our people want to see them play as they have not toured Pakistan since 1998," Ashraf told PTI from Dubai where he met O'Connor.
Ashraf said he had a fruitful discussion with O'Connor and assured him Pakistan was a safe country to play cricket.
"I think it was very worthwhile to meet with them. I informed him about the proposed tour itinerary and venues where the matches will be held," Ashraf said.
"I also briefed him about the security arrangements being made for the Australians which are similar to those made for visiting head of states," he added.
"We thought that should answer any questions in their mind."
Ashraf said he had told O'Connor that terrorism was a worldwide phenomenon and not confined to Pakistan.
"I told him that sporting authorities can't allow terrorism to stop sporting events as terrorism can happen anywhere. We feel it is everyone's responsibility to ensure this.
"At the same time we are ourselves aware of our responsibilities as a host nation to provide the Australians a safe and secure environment and they need to trust our arrangements," he said.
The PCB has got the planned series insured by Lloyds of England for USD 7.4 million and the insurance covers all eventualities and security risks.
Pakistan can also claim a minimum compensation of USD 2 million if Australia pulls out of the tour for security reasons.
The Australians have expressed concerns about touring Pakistan at a time when there is political unrest in the country and also security hazards with a string of suicide bombings by Islamic militants against security forces and political leaders.
The general elections were moved to February 18 from January 8 after former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated after an election rally in December.
Ashraf said he has told the Australians to send their security consultants to Pakistan to assess the security situation.
"They say they will take a decision on the tour after the elections on February 18," he said.
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