Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, has extended a warm invitation to the Sri Lankan team to “come and play in safe Pakistan”, as the country strives to bring international cricket back amidst improved security.
Discarded as an unsafe country after 2009 terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore, Pakistan is restoring international activity gradually, having hosted the Pakistan Super League final in March followed by three Twenty20 matches against a World XI earlier this month, all in Lahore.
The Pakistan Cricket Board now hope Sri Lanka — the target of the terrorists in Lahore — will travel to the same city to play the last Twenty20 International on October 29. But the tour is subject to security clearance.
Ashley de Dilva, the CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket, poured cold water on the plans last week by stressing that a security assessment was necessary before a final decision was taken. Dave Cameron, the Cricket West Indies president, also suggested that it would be a big challenge to convince his players to tour Pakistan in November.
But Sarfraz opened his arms to embrace the Sri Lankans. “My message to the Sri Lanka team is to come and play in Pakistan,” said Sarfraz in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
“Pakistan is a safe country. We recently hosted three matches Twenty20 matches with World XI and they were safe, so my message is to come and play in Pakistan.”
Dinesh Chandimal, the Sri Lankan captain, was understandably cautious.
“At the moment, the board wants to go there but we want to see the security first,” said Chandimal. All the Sri Lankan players have been given the option to decide on whether to travel to Pakistan or not and SLC have promised that no action would be taken against those who withdraw on security grounds.
“We haven’t discussed anything as a team,” said Chandimal. “We need to discuss this as a team and come up with a decision in the near future.”