KARACHI: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf has said that there are no concerns about security ahead of Pakistan’s upcoming tour to India.
Pakistan is set to tour India in December-January for a series comprising three One Day Internationals and two Twenty20s, the first bilateral series between the two arch rivals in five years. The two teams have only met in international tournaments since 2007.
A delegation from Pakistan is currently in India to examine the security arrangements for the bilateral series. The delegation has visited all five of the venues which will host the matches and expressed satisfaction with the security measures in place.
“We are not worried about any security issues because we are certain that the Indian board and government will provide the best possible security for our players,” Ashraf was quoted as saying by Times of India.
Ashraf further added that the series would do well to improve relations between the two neighbours which have been tense since the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
“I don’t see this series as just a cricket series I see this series as something bigger. I would like it to eventually help improve relations between the two countries,” Ashraf said.
“I want to see not only regular bilateral cricket relations with India but also better relations on other levels as well,” he added.
Ashraf said efforts were being made to resume international cricket in Pakistan and there were ongoing negotiations with other boards.
“It is difficult to give a time-frame for international teams to return to Pakistan but I see a scenario now where every board is waiting to see which board first sends its team to Pakistan,” he said.
PCB spokesman Nadeem Sarwar was part of a four-man team that visited India to inspect preparations. ”We’ve visited all five venues and are satisfied with the arrangements including security and facilities for spectators from Pakistan,” Sarwar told The Associated Press. ”This advance team has been looking into all logistics and not just security.”
”This is a very important series because when Mr. Zaka Ashraf took over as chairman of the PCB he had identified two things as crucial for us _ one was the revival of international cricket series in Pakistan and the other the resumption of ties with India,” Sarwar said.
Pakistan’s tour will start with Twenty20 games at Bangalore on December 25 and Ahmedabad on December 27, while the one-day games are scheduled to be played in Chennai on December 30, Kolkata on January 3 and New Delhi on January 6.
”This is a small tour but a good beginning,” Sarwar said. ”We expect that things will move forward from here and that we’ll host India in the near future. We’re open to playing our home series against India at a neutral venue, too. But we hope that a new beginning will be made with some international team visiting us soon.”
Pakistan has been playing its home series at neutral venues, usually the United Arab Emirates, as all test teams have avoided Pakistan since gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team convoy at Lahore in 2009.
Sarwar said about 500 spectators will come from Pakistan for each game, with 1,000 expected for the New Delhi match.
”This is the first time spectators from Pakistan will tour so many cities, because in the past it has been mostly Delhi and Mohali,” Sarwar said. ”We’ve requested local authorities to set up special facilitation booths for visitors from Pakistan.”