Younis, Akram urge Australians not to call off tour

Published: Saturday, May 18, 2002, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi: Pakistan's celebrated pace bowlers Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis on Saturday urged Australia not call off its tour of Pakistan after a car bomb blast last week raised security concerns.

"Last week's event was unfortunate but overall this beautiful world has become vulnerable to all sorts of mishaps so why single out Pakistan," Pakistan captain Younis said. "I would say to the Australians not to take hasty decisions and rule out cricket in Pakistan because we are committed to hosting good, positive cricket," he said. Pakistan faces a serious dilemma in the wake of the May 8 blast in this volatile port city outside a hotel where Pakistan and New Zealand teams were staying. The early-morning blast shortly before the start of the second Test in Karachi killed 14 people, including 11 French naval officials. New Zealand decided to abort its re-scheduled tour of Pakistan while the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) showed concerns over its tour of Pakistan in August and October 2002. "Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) provided New Zealand team with the best security and it praised it but unfortunately an event which was beyond anyone's control took place," Younis said. Australian players - Shane Warne, captain Steve Waugh, Glenn McGrath - earlier this week ruled out going to Pakistan. Warne said he was not prepared to wait before making up his mind. "If the tour is on in Pakistan I don't think I would be going," the champion leg spinner said. Warne's tour to Pakistan in 1994-95 was marred by match-fixing controversy and he missed the tour in 1998-99 due to injury. Waugh admitted it was a weighty dilemma but left a final decision to the "You want to go out there and play cricket, but if you're in danger you've got to consider what the options are. They've got to send players over there who want to go." "If the players don't want to go there is not much point in sending a team," Waugh had said. Younis said the Australian players' reaction is premature. "I back PCB's stance that Pakistan should be allowed time and statements like these are premature," Younis said. Younis' long-time pace partner Wasim Akram said fans in Pakistan would love to see the Australia tour go ahead. "Fans in Pakistan would love to see Pakistan play Australia and I hope no hasty decision is taken," Akram said. Having the singular honour of taking over 400 wickets in both forms of the game, Akram said he would love to have a last fling against the Aussies at home. "Australians beat us at home and then in Australia three seasons back so I would love to have another chance against them and that too on home grounds," he said. "It would be an exciting prelude to next year's World Cup, Pakistan play Australia in Australia, then a One-day tri-series followed by a Test series," he said. Pakistan meet Australia in two indoor games in the Colonial Stadium in Melbourne and in an outdoor game in Brisbane next month, a series between two finalists of the 1999 World Cup which is triggering huge interest. Australia has hinted at playing Pakistan at neutral venues like Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, Tangiers in Morocco or Bangladesh. "Playing at a neutral venue would be depriving Pakistani people of excitement," Akram said. "Cricket is a passion in Pakistan and people would love to see it on their grounds."

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