Pakistan’s head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq says Sri Lanka’s top players should have come for the limited-overs series in Pakistan after being assured of head-of-state-like security by the government.
Ten of Sri Lanka’s best players pulled out of the three-match ODI series and three Twenty20s in Pakistan due to security concerns — including ODI captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Twenty20 captain Lasith Malinga.
It is the first time since Sri Lanka’s team bus was attacked by terrorists in Lahore in 2009 that a foreign team will conduct a two-week tour of Pakistan. Major teams have avoided Pakistan since that ambush, which killed eight people and injured several players.
“Being a cricketer everyone’s life is very precious,” Misbah said on Wednesday. “We are also here, rest of the players are also here … I think they should have had considered it when the government is giving assurances.”
The current tour, which begins with the first ODI on Friday, also looked in doubt after the Sri Lankan cricket board said it had been warned by its government about a possible terrorist threat. But it finally got the go-ahead from the SLC after Pakistan’s government promised that the army would coordinate the security over the two-week long visit.
“Pakistan’s government is trying its best, security agencies are trying their best, the Pakistan Cricket Board is trying its best and we need the support of the world,” Misbah said. “No doubt what happened to them (was unfortunate), such things do happen in other parts of the world, but you go out and play there. They should come here too, what’s the problem with that.”
Major teams have avoided Pakistan since that 2009 attack, although the country has gradually tried to win back the confidence of the cricket world by hosting Zimbabwe, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, and a World XI for limited-overs matches — all of them amid intense security — over the past four years.
And Misbah said he hopes more teams will follow Sri Lanka in conducting longer tours.
“Pakistan is not a cricketing nation which should be sidelined from cricket,” he said. “It has a rich history, we had won the T20 World Cup, we had been the No. 1 test team in the world, we had won the 50 overs World Cup. Pakistan is a big team, everyone should think about it.”
The Sri Lanka team, which arrived on Tuesday amid tight security, rested in their team hotel on Wednesday. Pakistan team’s practice session was canceled on Wednesday due to rain in this southern port city and both teams will have training session at National Stadium on Thursday.
Karachi will host the three ODIs on Sept. 27, 29 and Oct. 2 while the three Twenty20s will be played at Lahore on Oct. 5, 7 and 9. (Courtesy AP)