Pakistan says no to Tests at neutral venues in future

Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2002, 2:19 [IST]
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Colombo: Pakistan will not allow its domestic Test series to be staged at neutral venues in future, its officials told the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Tuesday. Pakistan has been forced to shift its upcoming series against Australia to Colombo and Sharjah after the Australians declined to tour Pakistan due to security concerns. The three-match series, which marks Pakistan's 50 years in Test cricket, starts in the Sri Lankan capital on Thursday with the remaining two Tests scheduled to be played in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, later in the month. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Tauqir Zia however told the ICC's executive board meeting on Tuesday that this would be the last series he will host outside his own country. "Pakistan have said no to future Test series being played on neutral ground and want us to take steps to ensure teams travel to that country," ICC president Malcolm Gray said. Pakistan has been deprived of hosting cricket series after India, the West Indies and Australia refused to play there due to tensions in neighbouring Afghanistan, border skirmishes with arch-rivals India and attacks on Christian and Western targets at home. New Zealand abandoned its tour of Pakistan in May after a bomb blast outside the team hotel in Karachi on the morning of the second Test. PCB officials say it has lost an estimated $ 20 million in sponsorship money due to the reluctance of teams to play in Pakistan. A two-Test series against the West Indies was shifted to Sharjah earlier this year, while the Indian government has declined to sanction bilateral cricketing ties with Pakistan. India, which last played Pakistan in the Asia Cup One-dayer in Bangladesh in May 2000, is scheduled to undertake a Test tour across the border in April next year.

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