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Pakistan and Sri Lanka had played a full series in the UAE only two years back in 2017. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Pakistan’s limited over cricket series against Sri Lanka, to be held in Pakistan this month, is in jeopardy. Though the Sri Lankan board had assured to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that their team will make it for the series, many senior Sri Lankan team players have expressed their reservations to play in Pakistan citing security reasons.

This may pave the way for the series to be held in the UAE, which has been hosting Pakistan’s international matches since 2009.

The news comes as a dampener for the PCB, who has been busy making preparation for the tour and getting the stadium ready in Karachi and Lahore. The three One Day Internationals are scheduled for September 27, 29 and October 2 in Karachi, while Lahore will host the three T20 matches on October 5, 7 and 9. Sri Lanka’s senior players like Lasith Malinga, Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews and Suranga Lakmal are understood to have informed the Sri Lankan board that they are withdrawing from the tour of Pakistan.

Pakistan had always used UAE venues for their home series following international teams’ refusal to play in Pakistan over the last decade. Incidentally, Pakistan was hoping to stage this series and prove once again that their country can host international cricket after successfully staging the final stages of Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Lahore and Karachi.

Sri Lankan sports minister Harin Fernando had assured that Sri Lanka will tour Pakistan and that he will personally travel with the team to boost the confidence of the players. It is understood that another top 10 players too have refused to tour Pakistan. With 14 players pulling out of the tour, the option before Sri Lanka is to now send a weakened team. The PCB was gearing up to start the sale of tickets for the series shortly.

Pakistan was hoping that Sri Lanka may also play a two-match Test series in Pakistan in December. It is understood that Sri Lanka had expressed their apprehensions on playing Test matches in Pakistan and hence UAE was being approached to stage the Tests.

Pakistan was also pushing for Australia and England to play their series next in Pakistan and cricket board chiefs from both the countries even agreed to visit Pakistan for discussions. With top Sri Lankan players now refusing to play ball, these teams too will now seek approval from the players before giving their nod.