COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan cricket authorities on Thursday said they will go ahead with their scheduled tour of Pakistan despite fears that players could be the targets of terror attacks during the six-match visit.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) secretary Mohan de Silva said they received the all-clear from the defence ministry to leave for Pakistan on Tuesday after establishing that there was no threat to the national team.

The SLC added in a statement that the governing body was assured the Pakistan army would coordinate security set at a level usually reserved for a head of state.

“Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to announce that the forthcoming tour of Pakistan will go ahead as planned, following assurances given by the government of Pakistan that it will provide maximum security,” the statement said.

De Silva added: “I and ‘SLC office bearers will also be accompanying the team”.

Reports last week of a possible terror attack were referred to the defence ministry for investigation.

The Sri Lanka team was the target of an attack on their way to start play on day three of the second Test at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in March 2009, with six players injured when gunmen attacked their bus.

Six Pakistan policemen and two civilians were killed. Since the attack, a majority of international teams have refused to tour the South Asian country.

Sri Lanka’s first match in Lahore after that was the final game of a three-match Twenty20 International series against Pakistan in October 2017.

De Silva visited Pakistan last month along with a security consultant to check out the arrangements made by the hosts.

The six-match tour, which is due to start on Sept 27, was put on hold last week after the Sri Lanka prime minister’s office warned the board it had unspecified information about a possible attack against its players.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials said they were not aware of any information relating to the safety of the Sri Lankan team, but reiterated their commitment to providing security.

“They have promised security reserved for a head of state,” de Silva said.

But 10 senior players opted out of the tour citing security concerns — including current Test and ODI skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, T20 captain Lasith Malinga and former captains Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal.

Last week Sri Lanka announced two squads — to be led by Lahiru Thirimanne and Dasun Shanaka, respectively — for the three One-day internationals and the three Twenty20 Internationals.

These will be the first One-day Internationals to take place in Pakistan since Zimbabwe toured for a three-match one-day series in 2015, while all international cricket here since the 2017 PSL final has been in the form of Twenty20 Internationals with a World Xi touring Lahore in 2017 and West Indies playing in Karachi in April 2018.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2019