Sri Lanka want to shorten Pakistan tour

Pakistan's already troubled quest to organise some international cricket has run into further obstacles after it emerged that Sri Lanka's players would like to push back the tour in order to get some rest. If agreed, however, there might emerge a likely clash with Pakistan's ODI tour to Bangladesh, currently scheduled for early March.

Sri Lanka were inked in as replacements for India, who pulled out after the recent deterioration in relations between Pakistan and India. The series was briefly put into doubt after the sacking of Arjuna Ranatunga and his interim administration; just days before, Ranatunga had readily agreed to touring Pakistan.

But the tour was subsequently approved and cleared by the Sri Lankan government, though the itinerary is yet to be finalised. Originally, three Tests, three ODIs and a Twenty20 international were proposed, but Sri Lankan officials asked for the Twenty20 match to be dropped and two extra ODIs put in. Now, however, it is learnt they want two Tests, three ODIs and one T20I.

In this new scenario, the tour will run to March 7 and Pakistan are scheduled to leave for Bangladesh for a five-ODI series on March 3. "It has been intimated to us that Sri Lankan players want a break after their tour to Bangladesh," a Pakistan board official told Cricinfo. "Though they haven't made the details clear they are looking at mid-February to start the tour which will run beyond our scheduled departure for Bangladesh."

Pakistan remain keen on the three-Test, five-ODI schedule and have been in contact with SLC to try and push that idea and stick to the original dates. But given their need to play cricket - and soon - they remain flexible.

One option is to try and push forward the jaunt to Bangladesh to late January or February, which would then clear the way for Sri Lanka's tour. It is an avenue, said the official, they are looking at. "We will know more about which way to go once we have received details of what kind of dates Sri Lanka are looking at. Once that is in, we can work the schedules."

It is, says the PCB's director general Javed Miandad, not an obstacle that cannot be cleared. "There is no major problem," he told Cricinfo. "We will be in touch with them and I am sure, given the friendly relations between the two boards, we will be able to work something out that keeps everyone happy."