Bangladesh agree to tour Pakistan

December 18, 2012

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DHAKA, Dec 17: Bangladesh have agreed in principle to tour Pakistan and become the first team to play international cricket there since an attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus nearly four years ago, officials said on Monday.

Pakistan have had to play their ‘home’ matches in venues ranging from Dubai to London ever since gunmen shot dead eight people and wounded seven Sri Lankan players in an audacious attack near the stadium in Lahore in March 2009.

But their exile status now looks set to end as early as Jan 12 after the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) said it would take up an invitation to play two games in Lahore, as long as there were no last-minute objections on security grounds.

“We have in principle agreed to tour Pakistan. It’s a commitment made by former BCB president Mustafa Kamal. We are keeping his word,” Enayet Husain Siraj, BCB’s head of cricket operations, said. “The tour is subject to security clearance.”

Bangladesh had also accepted an invitation to tour Pakistan last April for a short limited-over series but the Dhaka High Court blocked the tour on security grounds.

Officials have said they see no judicial bar this time.

Jalal Yunus, a spokesman for the BCB, said the board on Sunday night received a security plan from their counterparts in Pakistan, which would be discussed before signing off on the tour.

“We’ll sit with our stakeholders including players and government officials concerned very soon,” he remarked.

Yunus said Pakistan had proposed two matches to take place in Lahore from Jan 12 and 13, one of which would be a One-day International game and the other a Twenty20 International.

Pakistani cricketers are hugely popular in Bangladesh and 20 of them — including stars such as big-hitting Shahid Afridi and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal — played in the inaugural edition of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) last year.

The second edition of the BPL is due to begin next month, days after the Pakistan tour.

But according to a Monday report by the cricket website, ESPNcricinfo, Pakistan will only give its cricketers clearance to play in the tournament if Bangladesh goes ahead with the tour.

A Pakistani Cricket Board (PCB) official told the website that the “onus is on Bangladesh now”, insisting that “we are committed to give them the best security”.—AFP