Dubai: Pakistan are ready to host a below-par Sri Lanka team in the limited over series, to be held in Lahore and Karachi this month-end.
In a blow to the upcoming series, top Sri Lankan players had pulled out of the Pakistan series citing security reasons. Though Pakistan had regularly staged their international matches in UAE for the last decade, it is learnt that they have not yet made any request to Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) for any contingency plans. From this season, they are bent on bringing back international cricket to their country along with plans of staging majority of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches in Pakistan.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) made available the names of all the players who had pulled out on Monday: Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Janith Perera, Dhananjaya De Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne. Kusal Mendis is not available for selection due to an injury he suffered during the New Zealand Series.
The list of the players’ withdrawal were released after SLC held a meeting with players, who were chosen as part of a preliminary squad to select the team.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan are scheduled to play three ODIs and three T20 matches, starting from September 27 to October 9. The meeting was aimed at informing the players about the security arrangements, during the forthcoming tour and also to find out their ‘decision’ before selectors sit for the selection of squads for the ODI and T20I series.
Despite former Sri Lanka Air Force Commander, Marshal Air Roshan Goonetileke, who is the Chief Security Advisor of the SLC, briefing the players about the security situation in Pakistan and the security arrangements, the senior players could not be convinced to tour Pakistan. Asantha De Mel, chairman of the national selection panel, gave players the freedom to option of taking part in the forthcoming tour.
Following the meeting with the players, the national selectors have now selected an alternative T20 and ODI squad to tour Pakistan. The squads will now be sent for approval of Harin Fernando, Minister of Telecommunication, Foreign Employment and Sports, before being announced.