Pakistan board finalises venues for Australia series
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has listed Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan as venues for all matches during Australia's tour, which is due to start next month. The trip is still dependent on a security assessment and is scheduled to include three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20.
Nasim Ashraf, the PCB chairman, held a meeting with his Australian counterpart, Creagh O'Connor, in Dubai to discuss the arrangements and assured him the players would be looked after in a similar way to visiting heads of states. Some Australian players have expressed concerns over touring against a backdrop of escalating violence and tension, first with the imposition of emergency, and then with the assassination of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
"It was very worthwhile to meet with them," Ashraf told PTI. "I informed him [O'Connor] about the proposed tour itinerary and venues where the matches will be held. I also briefed him about the security arrangements being made for the Australians, which are similar to those made for visiting head of states."
Ashraf said Pakistan would rather scrap the series than shift it to a neutral venue if Australia didn't agree with the itinerary. Australia last toured Pakistan in 1998 and their next scheduled visit, in 2002, was transferred to Colombo and Sharjah.
"Our stance is very clear," Ashraf said. "We want the Australians to come and play in Pakistan as planned. Our people want to see them play as they have not toured Pakistan since 1998."
Zimbabwe's recent visit, which included five one-dayers, went off without any security glitches or untoward incidents. Hamilton Masakadza, the captain, said the team was well looked after and that served as an encouraging sign for all future tours.
Cricket Australia will send their security delegation to inspect the venues and facilities after the general elections in Pakistan, to be held on February 18. A final decision will then be taken.