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May 10, 2011
Sri Lanka is in the running to host the England-Pakistan Test and one-day series scheduled for early 2012, with continuing security concerns preventing England from travelling to Pakistan. Sri Lanka Cricket's secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said he was "very positive" about Sri Lanka being handed the hosting rights, though the PCB said it has yet to make a decision.
"We're working on several options for [hosting] that series, and UAE and Sri Lanka are a couple of them," Subhan Ahmed, the PCB's chief operating officer, told ESPNcricinfo. "Nothing is confirmed just yet."
Ranatunga said Sri Lanka was an ideal venue as it was a favoured destination of both English and Pakistan fans. "I have spoken to the cricket boards of both England and Pakistan and they have been very positive about playing the series in Sri Lanka," he said. "Pakistan chose Sri Lanka to play all their group matches of the 2011 World Cup and they had a lot of crowd support.
"England are also keen to play in Sri Lanka as their supporters, including the Barmy Army, have enjoyed previous tours here with the England teams."
The financial aspect will also come into play in any final decision. SLC is reportedly in debt after the World Cup and any potential series will help alleviate that situation. "The series would also generate income for the Cricket Board and also improve our tourist industry," Ranatunga said.
For Pakistan, Sri Lanka may provide a cheaper option for logistical costs than the UAE, where they have been holding most of their "home" internationals. Last October they hosted South Africa for a full tour and it is believed they are keen to look at other options given the higher costs the UAE incurs.
It would also make more sense for England to play the three-Test, five-ODI series in Sri Lanka instead of the UAE, as they are due to tour Sri Lanka soon after, from early March to April 2012.
Sri Lanka are also scheduled to play a Test and ODI series against Pakistan this October, and that series is almost certain to be held in Sri Lanka, Ranatunga said. "We have put forward our proposal to the PCB and are awaiting a response from them. I am quite certain they would want to play the series in Sri Lanka."
Sri Lanka were the last international team to play in Pakistan, in early 2009, with the second Test being called off midway after the Sri Lankan team bus was shot at in Lahore. The incident led to the ICC dropping Pakistan as one of the four countries co-hosting the 2011 World Cup, and Pakistan have been using Abu Dhabi and Dubai as neutral venues for their matches since.
Sri Lanka previously hosted a neutral Test between Pakistan and Australia in Colombo in October 2002, after Australia cited security concerns over travelling to Pakistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks and the ensuing war in neighbouring Afghanistan.
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