Sri Lanka ready to play T20I in Pakistan
What’s the story?
In what will come as a huge boost for those hoping to see international cricket return to Pakistan, Asian Cricket Council (ACC) development committee chairman Thilanga Sumathipala said that Sri Lanka will no issues in traveling to Pakistan and playing at least a solitary T20I in Lahore.
Speaking after the ACC Annual General Meeting in Colombo, he added that if all the plans fall in place, the series could well take place in September, upon the conclusion of India's tour of Sri Lanka. He added that cricket is a game of "change, chance, and chase" and world cricket is in the hands of the "unity of Asia".
Sumathipala said: "I am keen to take my team to Pakistan. We have had our security experts visit and make an assessment, and things look positive with things improving all over the country and especially Lahore being cleared. We have three T20I games coming up against Pakistan in September and we would like to play at least one of those games in Lahore."
He also urged other nations to come out in support of Pakistan saying that there is always a risk.
"There is always risk - there were two attacks in London during the Champions trophy, but cricket continued under the security assurances of the ICC. So likewise, we too must be as accommodating and understanding as possible with our members and extend our fullest support to them as the cricketing family of Asia."
In case you didn’t know...
Since the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan team bus that left a few players injured, Zimbabwe is the only country to have toured Pakistan. Aside from that series in 2015, no team has toured Pakistan and the country has had to play their home matches in the UAE due to security concerns.
In an attempt to bring back international cricket to Pakistan, ICC has organized a three-match T20I series in September that will take place in Lahore and will feature Pakistan taking on a World XI.
The heart of the matter
The news will come as a huge boost to Pakistan after New Zealand Cricket confirmed that the centrally contracted players won't take part in the World XI T20I series. However, the words of Sumathipala will come as music to PCB and chairman Najam Sethi's ears. He also added that when Sri Lanka suffered through "three decades of terrorism and war", Pakistan and India stood by them and that they were keen to return the favor.
Sri Lanka are currently playing India in the third and final Test at Pallekele. Following the conclusion of the series, they will also play an ODI series that begins on August 20 and a T20I as well. But otherwise, their schedule is clear for the month of September where this supposed series is set to happen.
Ever since 2009, Pakistan has been left at a severe disadvantage as a result of not being able to play their home matches in Pakistan. While security concerns are valid and shouldn't be taken lightly, the fact that the Pakistan Super League was held in the country, Zimbabwe have toured them and ICC are themselves pushing for international cricket to return to the country shows that it is safe for the players to play.
That Sri Lanka, who were the unfortunate victims that led to all this, are themselves ready to tour Pakistan should only serve as great news and prove once again that sport has the power to unite us all and cut across boundaries.