January 15, 2009

Sri Lanka benefit from cancellation of India’s tour to Pakistan


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Sri Lanka, rather unfortunate not to have dethroned Australia in the last World Cup, have got a lucky break with the cancellation of India’s tour to Pakistan. They are the real beneficiaries.

The cricket authorities in Pakistan as well as in India eyed a series with Sri Lanka to fill the vacuum. They were the only team supposed to have a breather during this period of time but as the luck would have it they have not one but two teams to handle.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was eager to play host to a longer series against Sri Lanka to offset the losses but their counterparts became double-minded when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also started pushing for a series around the same time.

Now both the tours have been confirmed. Sri Lanka would indeed be touring Pakistan, albeit in phases and in between they will play a series of One-day Internationals at home against India.

In fact the itinerary of Sri Lanka’s tour has now been revised following the confirmation of their series against India. The Sri Lankans desired curtailing their stay in Pakistan and the PCB hardly had any other choice. They didn’t have the cushion to turn down the request and they have agreed to scrap Multan as one of the venues for the three-match ODI series.

There is not security issue or anything related to it but the PCB was left with no other option than to stage back to back ODIs at the National Stadium, Karachi, and the third and final game to be held at the Qaddafi Stadium, Lahore.

According to the revised schedule, Sri Lanka will now play two ODIs on January 20 and 21 at the National Stadium, Karachi, with the final match of the series at the Qaddafi Stadium, Lahore, on January 24.

Originally the first game of the ODI series was to be played at Karachi on January 21, the second one in Lahore on January 24 and the third and fine one in Multan on January 27.

Sri Lanka's tour of Pakistan will be split into two parts. In the first part they will play the ODI series before returning home for a five-match ODI series against India but they will be back in Pakistan for two Tests.

Meanwhile the Sri Lankan authorities have officially confirmed that they will play host to India for a five-match limited overs series during the month of February. India’s hurriedly arranged tour to Sri Lanka will also include a Twenty20 International.

The dates and venues of the Sri Lanka-India matches are yet to be finalized but it seems a matter of time for the itinerary of the tour to be released.

The BCCI, eager to make up for the recent losses in revenue, has also approached their counterparts in New Zealand to add an extra Test match during India’s upcoming tour and it’s extremely likely that they would be accommodated.

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