2011 World Cup May 23, 2009

Abu Dhabi willing to step in as World Cup host

Cricinfo staff

Dilawar Mani, the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council, will be meeting the PCB chairman Ijaz Butt in the coming week to discuss the possibility of Pakistan hosting their World Cup matches at Abu Dhabi as a neutral venue. Pakistan's share of matches in the 2011 World Cup were taken away by the ICC due to concerns over security in the aftermath of the shootings in Lahore, where gunmen targeted a team bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers.

Butt is currently in South Africa to watch the IPL, and is expected to meet officials of the South Africa and Zimbabwe cricket boards. "On the way back from South Africa, Mr. Butt will be making a stopover in Abu Dhabi and I will be meeting with him," Mani told AP.

Mani has offered to host all of Pakistan's international matches in Abu Dhabi, including those of the 2011 World Cup. "If asked (by the PCB), we are willing to organize all its international matches including the World Cup," he said. "It's difficult times for Pakistan and we want to help them."

The Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi has hosted four bilateral tournaments involving Pakistan. They played India in a two-match ODI series in 2006, Sri Lanka in a three-match series in 2007 followed by three ODIs against West Indies last year. Most recently, they split a five-ODI series against Australia between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The ICC is scheduled to meet the chiefs of cricket boards of the four countries - India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh - co-hosting the 2011 World Cup in Dubai on June 3. The PCB had earlier issued a legal notice against the ICC for moving the competition out of Pakistan, and filed a case in a Lahore court, disputing the transfer of the headquarters of the tournament from Lahore to Mumbai.

Earlier this week, Butt revealed to Cricinfo that the PCB were presenting a security plan for Pakistan's venues first and if that failed to convince members, would then propose a neutral venue. "We will, as per the agreement we have all signed, submit a satisfactory security plan to the ICC for games in Pakistan," Butt said. "Should that plan not be satisfactory then we will put forward a proposal for a neutral venue, be that in the Middle East or Kuala Lumpur. That process and procedure is part of the hosting agreement that we all signed."