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Pak cricketers condemn South Africa pullout

Pakistani cricketers wore black armbands in their fifth one-dayer against Bangladesh on Sunday to protest South Africa's last minute tour pullout on security fears.

india Updated: Sep 22, 2003 15:52 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Pakistani cricketers wore black armbands in their fifth and final one-day match against Bangladesh Sunday to protest South Africa's last minute tour cancellation on security fears.

"Today's match is our answer to South Africa...that by pulling out of the Pakistan tour they have promoted terrorism," said Pakistan coach and former captain Javed Miandad.

South African cricket officials called off their team's tour on Saturday just 24 hours before they were to depart, saying security in Pakistan had descended to an unacceptable level. The decision was triggered by a bomb blast in an empty Karachi office block Friday night in which no one was injured.

The South Africans would have been the first top-level international team to return to Pakistan after a 15-month drought caused by last year's wave of violence against Western and Christian targets.

Bangladesh, the first foreign team to return, was wrapping up its trouble-free five-week tour Sunday in Karachi.

South Africa had scheduled a warm-up match in Karachi Wednesday ahead of a month-long series of three one-day and three Test matches. New Zealand was scheduled to follow in November.

Miandad said Pakistani players were disgusted, echoing the wave of bitter disappointment across the cricket-mad Islamic republic.

"If they did not want to come they should have said so straight away, why make lame excuses?"

Miandad, Pakistan's highest Test run-scorer, said security fears were unfounded and complained Pakistan had been wrongly targetted as "no-go zone."

The United Cricket Board of South Africa offered to play the series in a third country "neutral venue" or on its own turf, but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) declined and is trying to reschedule the tour and change venues.

Another former captain, Intikhab Alam, said South Africa's own security was poor.

"It's a very unfortunate decision because the law and order situation even in South Africa is not good."

First Published: Sep 21, 2003 17:46 IST