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PCB seeks assurances from interior ministry to revive cricket

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Ijaz Butt sought assurances on security from country’s interior ministry on Thursday as the board intensifies its efforts to revive international cricket in the troubled country. National sides have not toured Pakistan since March 2009 when seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach were injured and eight Pakistanis killed after their team bus was attacked in Lahore. Pakistan blamed the assault on the Taliban, and the national side have since been forced to play their home series at neutral venues. “We have asked the interior ministry to give us assurances on security so that we can revive international cricket in Pakistan,” Ijaz told reporters after his meeting with interior minister Rahman Malik here.

Pakistan has already been a virtual no-go zone for foreign teams since the September 11, 2001 attacks. Ijaz said Afghanistan’s cricket team, the first international team to tour Pakistan since 2009, would be given full security when they arrive to play the host’s second string later this month. “We are endeavouring to revive international cricket in Pakistan and the Afghanistan series, although not a big one, will be the step towards that. And we will put in place full security,” Ijaz said.

Pakistan have been forced to play their home series in United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and England. They are due to host Sri Lanka in October and England early next year, but both series are unlikely to be staged in Pakistan because of security fears. Sri Lanka Cricket has offered to host both series, an option Ijaz said was under consideration. Ijaz said Pakistan was also trying to arrange a series with arch-rivals India, who have stalled bi-lateral series in the aftermath of terror attacks on Mumbai, blamed on militants across the border. “We are trying our best to arrange a series with India either in December this year or early next year,” he said.