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Pakistan is safe for international cricket tours, says Jayasuria

Published Oct 18, 2012 01:27pm

Sri Lankan cricketer Sanath Jayasuria.—File Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: Former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya believes Pakistan is safe enough to host international cricket again.

He arrived in the southern port city of Karachi on Thursday to lead an International World XI in two exhibition Twenty20 matches against a Pakistan All Stars side this weekend.

The matches are organized by provincial sports minister Dr. Mohammad Ali Shah in hope of sending positive signals to the cricketing world.

NoTest-playing team has toured Pakistan since the deadly attack on the Sri Lanka team convoy in 2009 in Lahore.

The leader of the banned extremist group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Malik Ishaq was accused of masterminding, from behind bars, the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, which wounded seven players and an assistant coach, and killed eight Pakistanis.

The attacks saw Pakistan stripped of its right to co-host last year’s cricket World Cup.

Jayasuriya, who wasn’t in the team at the time of the attack, says “In my opinion Pakistan is a safe country.”

“It depends on country to country (whether they tour Pakistan) but in my opinion Pakistan is a safe country,” said Jayasuriya, who wasn't in the team at the time of the attack.

“The incidents of Lahore were not the best thing to have happened and the suspension of cricket in Pakistan is very unfortunate because the people love the game here.”

The Pakistan Cricket Board has freed up contracted players to play for the All Stars, but left obligations including security, anti-corruption, marketing and broadcasting to Shah.

The organisers have promised foolproof security for the two matches, saying that the arrangements made should be enough.

“Around 5,000 policemen will be employed to avoid any lapse and we are sure that these arrangements will make the players at ease,” said Shah.

The International World XI will be coached by former West Indies batsman Alvin Kallicharan, who has come to Pakistan 40 years after his last visit in 1972, when he raised funds for flood victims.

“This time it's another noble cause, promotion of cricket in Pakistan, and I think they (other countries) will have to have a look,” Kallicharan said.

“Pakistan is a part of world cricket and we are here to show that Pakistan is a place to play cricket.”

The PCB has been forced to organize its home matches at neutral venues, mainly in the United Arab Emirates.

The World XI will also include Ricardo Powell, Steven Taylor, Jermaine Charles Lawson and Adam Sanford, all from the West Indies; South Africa’s Justin Kemp, Loots Bosman, Mthandeki Tschabalala, Andre Nel, Andre Johann Seymore and Nantie Hayward; and Shapoor Zadran and Mohammad Shahzad Mohammadi of Afghanistan.

Pakistan All Stars will be led by current all-rounder Shahid Afridi and include Younis Khan, Nasir Jamshed, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul, Mohammad Sami, Wahab Riaz and Imran Nazir.