On Monday the Sri Lanka cricket announced that it will send its team to Pakistan for the third T20 internal in Lahore on October 29.
The first two matches will take place in Abu Dhabi (as scheduled) while the third one is confirmed for Gadaffi stadium Lahore.
Since the attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus back in 2009, no international cricket team has agreed to play in Pakistan. Only Zimbabwe and the world XI have played international matches in the country. Finally, Sri Lanka has decided to end the boycott.The SLC came to this conclusion after discussing the issue in a meeting with its executive committee in Colombo.
The SLC announced the news just two days before its 40 players signed a letter requesting to change the venue. It is still not clear if the committee would send the full-strength squad or second-stride with respect to the refusal letter. Whereas, Upul Tharanga, Sri Lanka’s limited-overs captain, has already pulled out of the match owing to security concerns.
A team of 22 players will be announced on Tuesday and the list is expected to be reduced to only 15 players by October 20.
“SLC have over the past two months conducted a thorough evaluation with the assistance of the Government of Sri Lanka, the Government of Pakistan, the PCB and independent Security experts,” an SLC release stated.
“The Executive Committee evaluated the reports obtained together with the recommendation of the International Cricket Council – which successfully conducted the Independence Cup tournament in Lahore fielding a World XI Team – and having been fully satisfied with the stringent security measures in place, the SLC ExCo unanimously decided to play the third T20 in Lahore on October 29”.
Thilanga Sumathipala, president of SLC will be accompanying the team to Lahore, confirmed SLC. The board officials also stated that the Sri Lankan team had been promised the same degree of security as offered to the World XI in September. The board further said that ICC was also willing to send its match officials to Pakistan.
Hashan Tillakaratne, Sri Lanka’s batting coach said that the board must help Pakistan. As Sri Lanka owes Pakistan a big time. During the 1996 World Cup, after withdrawals by Australia and West Indies due to security issues, Pakistan and India had send a combined team to play in Sri Lanka.
“SLC has already announced that we will tour Lahore. In 1996, Pakistan helped us by forming the combined India-Pakistan side, and now it is our duty to help them,” Tillakaratne said.
Despite of some initial fears, Pakistan cricket board is very confident about this event as it has already hosted three T20Is against the World XI successfully. Thisara Perera was the only player representing Sri Lanka in those matches. Currently Perera is a part of the ODI squad in UAE.
The cricket-enthusiasts of Pakistan are extremely excited for the third T20I as this match ensures the revival of International cricket in Pakistan. Pakistani cricket fans are using “cricket comes Home” hash tags on social media and are looking forward to a crazy game on October 29.