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Pak welcomes decision to revive tour

Pakistan welcomed South Africa's decision to proceed with a shortened cricket tour, saying their cancellation announced at the weekend had created "hard times" for Pakistani cricket.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2003 20:17 IST

Pakistan welcomed South Africa's decision Tuesday to proceed with a shortened cricket tour here, saying their cancellation at the weekend had created "hard times" for Pakistani cricket.

"We feel it is a welcome sign for cricket in Pakistan because we have gone through very hard times in the last four days," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Ramiz Raja told AFP.

South African cricket officials announced earlier their team would undertake a shortened tour to Pakistan after a revised tour itinerary proposed by the PCB.

The new itinerary dropped venues in the southern port city Karachi, where a bomb blast Friday night triggered the Proteas' cancellation, and the main northwestern city Peshawar.

"Having regard to the removal of Karachi and Peshawar from the proposed revised schedule ... and having heard the views of the South African Police Services, the board has resolved in principle to proceed with a revised, shortened tour of Pakistan," Cricket SA (Pvt) Ltd said in a statement.

The Proteas were originally due to arrive in Pakistan on Monday but South African officials called off the tour Saturday in the wake of the explosion, in which no one was injured.

Raja said Pakistan agreed to eliminate the two venues to save the tour.

"Unfortunately Karachi and Peshawar do not feature in the revised itenerary but we have agreed to eliminate these two venues only to save the tour."

He said the South African team was expected to arrive here on the first of October.

South African officials said tour would take place "as soon as possible -- plans are for this to occur in October."

The Proteas' last-minute cancellation had sent a wave of bitter disappointment across cricket-mad Pakistan, which has been looking to South Africa to lead the return of top-level international cricket to the terror-hit Islamic republic after a 15-month drought.

A wave of anti-Western and anti-Christian bloodshed last year kept foreign teams away. The New Zealand team fled in May 2002 when a suicide bomber blew up a busload of French naval staff outside their Karachi hotel, killing 11 French nationals and three Pakistanis.

First Published: Sep 23, 2003 19:32 IST