Lanka to play Test series in Sharjah

Published: Sunday, May 20, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Sharjah: A Test series between Sri Lanka and possibly Pakistan at this desert cricket venue is a distinct possibility in the near future. Sri Lankan Sports Minister Lakshman Kiriella gave enough hints to suggest that Sri Lankans were ready to play a Test series at Sharjah. "If we are invited, we will gladly come. I see no reason why we should not come," he said. Mr Kiriella was speaking to reporters after he and Cricketers' Benefit Fund Series (CBFS) chief Abdulrehman Bukhatir announced that Sri Lanka had signed a three-year contract with the CBFS to participate in the next six One-day tournaments to be played at Sharjah, beginning October this year. Mr Bukhatir also announced that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had renewed its contract with the CBFS for another three years for playing in Sharjah. Mr Kiriella said Sri Lankan's were ready to help the CBFS in all its endeavours because, "When we got the Test status in 1982 and we were not in demand worldwide, the CBFS invited us...Hence it is our turn to stand by them in difficult times." Till date, Sharjah holds the distinction of hosting the maximum number of One-day Internationals in the world. However, it has never hosted a five-day tie. The signing of the contract with Sri Lanka is being seen as a major achievement by the CBFS, which is yet to recover from the jolt it suffered after India decided not to play at Sharjah for three years. India did not participate in the tournament held in April and it was replaced at the last minute by New Zealand. Pakistan and Sri Lanka were the other two teams. The CBFS has also decided to help Sri Lanka in building an international stadium and a cricket academy at Kandy. Budding UAE cricketers would be provided free coaching at the academy.

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