Pakistan safest country for cricket: Malik

July 17, 2008

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KARACHI, July 16: Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik on Wednesday urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) not to move the Champions Trophy out of his country in September, saying it was perfectly safe for international teams.

Malik’s plea came amid renewed fears about security here, following a suicide blast in Islamabad earlier this month that killed 19 people and a series of small bombs in Karachi next day.

Players from Australia, New Zealand and England have expressed concerns over playing in Pakistan. The Champions Trophy tournament is to be held in Karachi, Rawalpindi — which adjoins Islamabad –— and Lahore from Sept 11 to 28.

“Pakistan is the safest country for cricket and all teams must come here without any fears of security,” said Malik, one day after Pakistan announced its 30-man provisional squad for the Trophy.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said all participating countries would be briefed on security arrangements at an ICC meeting in Dubai on Sunday.

The ICC said last week it could pull the Champions Trophy out of Pakistan if there were any threat of violence.

Pakistan hosted the Asia Cup without incident from June 24 until July 6 — evidence, according to Malik, that the Champions Trophy also would go off without a hitch.

Sri Lanka is the designated alternative venue for the Champions Trophy but is also facing renewed violence between Tamil Tiger rebels and the government troops. South Africa has been mentioned as a possible replacement.—AFP