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November 25, 2008
Rawalpindi will not be hosting its scheduled matches during India's tour of Pakistan in January next year due to the delay in renovation work at the stadium. The second Test (January 21-25) and third ODI (February 11), originally to be played at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, are likely to be shifted to Multan or Faisalabad.
"We will not be able to finish the renovation work that includes the relaying of the outfield," Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, said. "We have couple of other venues in mind and will shift the Rawalpindi matches there." The venue had earlier been dropped for security reasons for the Champions Trophy this year. The ICC restricted the tournament - which was eventually postponed - to two cities, Lahore and Karachi.
Butt is expected to travel to India to try allay India's security concerns over the tour. Twin blasts outside the grounds at Peshawar and Lahore recently have raised concerns about player safety in the country. Recently, a tour by India's junior hockey team to Pakistan was scrapped at the last minute after the Indian government refused to approve the security plans offered by Pakistan.
The BCCI has sought clearance from its government for the tour, and Butt said the PCB has not set any cut-off time. "When we want the series to go as planned why should we set any cut-off time?" he said. The PCB has lined up the neutral venues of Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai for the series against India, should the team fail to receive government clearance to travel to Pakistan.
The last match in Rawalpindi, a one-dayer between West Indies and Pakistan, in December 2006, was washed out due to rain. India last toured Pakistan in 2005-06, losing the Test series 0-1 but emerging 4-1 victors in the ODI series that followed. Three Tests, five ODIs and a Twenty20 international are lined up for the tour starting in January.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.