KARACHI: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani will travel to South Africa on Monday on a mission to convince Cricket South Africa (CSA) to support the return of international cricket to Pakistan, it has emerged.

Mani has said that his main priority remains the return of full international cricket to Pakistan and the country again hosting the International Cricket Council (ICC) events.

An official source in the PCB told Press Trust of India news agency that Mani would also be persuading CSA officials to continue their support for the return of international cricket to Pakistan as last year the World XI included several South African players.

“Mani will request them to also play a short limited-overs series sometime in 2019 in Pakistan,” the source said.

Mani is also due to meet with the Pakistan team players and management before the first Test starting from on Wednesday in Centurion and is expected to have a meeting with head coach Mickey Arthur about plans for the 2019 World Cup to be held in England.

The PCB is already keeping its fingers crossed that Cricket Australia (CA) will agree to send its team to Lahore or Karachi next March to play at least two One-day Internationals, which are part of a five-match series scheduled in the UAE before the World Cup.

The PCB has been buoyed by media reports from Australia that CA is considering its request to play part of the ODI series in Pakistan.

“We are in ongoing discussions with the PCB about the ODI tour in March next year. We recognise that the PCB and the Pakistan government are taking every step to improve the security for touring cricket teams and we’ll continue discussions with the PCB as the safety and security of Australian players and support staff is our number one priority,” said a CA spokesman in Melbourne.

The statement came after PCB’s newly-appointed managing director Wasim Khan maintained that he is willing to address all reservations including security arrangements. CA has not sent its team to Pakistan since 1998.

In March, 2009 after terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore, top teams have declined to tour the country due to security concerns.

But since last year, the PCB has succeeded in bringing some international cricket to home by hosting a short T20 series against a ICC World XI in Lahore last September and then hosting a lone T20 game against Sri Lanka also in Lahore in October.

Earlier this year in April, the West Indies also toured and played a three-match Twenty20 International series in Karachi.

Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2018

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