Sri Lanka’s cricket board on Sunday (October 22) vowed to press ahead with a controversial tour of Pakistan next week despite top players pulling out and speculation the coach may not join the squad.
The final Twenty20 International in Lahore on October 29 will be the first time a Sri Lanka squad has played in Pakistan since gunmen staged a deadly assault on their team bus in March 2009.
Sri Lanka Cricket are pushing ahead with their tour despite ongoing concerns about security and top players being left out of the squad for the three-match series.
The board has played down speculation in local media that Nic Pothas, the coach, and Nirmalan Dhanabalasingham, the team physiotherapist, will also not travel to Pakistan.
“Nic has not told me he is not going,” Thilanga Sumathipala, the president of SLC, told AFP. “We are going to be in Pakistan for just over a day, but it is very important for us to go there and revive international cricket in south Asia.”
No top international side has played in Pakistan since the 2009 attack, which left eight people dead and seven visiting team members and support staff injured.
Sumathipala, who will join the squad for the match, said the board had accepted security assessments conducted by Sri Lankan and Pakistani authorities.
Several players who had said they would not travel to Pakistan have been dropped from the series, which opens in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday and concludes with the final in Lahore.
Upul Tharanga, the skipper, Lasith Malinga, bowler Suranga Lakmal, Niroshan Dickwella and Chamara Kapugedara were left out of the squad. Lakmal and Kapugedara survived the 2009 attack.
On Saturday, Sri Lanka made Thisara Perera, the 28-year-old allrounder, the captain of the T20I squad. He had toured Pakistan as a member of a World XI for a three-match T20I series in Lahore last month.
The World XI series was part of Pakistani efforts to bring international cricket back to the country.
Pakistan hosted Zimbabwe for a limited-overs series in 2015 but top teams have refused to tour there, forcing Pakistan to play home matches in neutral venues in the UAE.
Pakistan currently lead the five-match one-day series 4-0 with the last match in Sharjah on Monday.