Thatscricket - ODI Series - India~~s tour of Pakistan- ~~Cricket diplomacy will foment relations~~

Published: Monday, March 29, 2004, 20:17 [IST]
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Peshawar:Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan on Thursday said the smooth conduct of cricket matches in trouble-prone cities of Karachi and Peshawar would allay the security apprehensions of visiting teams and would help these venues to stage Test matches in future.

Shaharyar said that the smooth conduct and crow behaviour in Karachi had enhanced its image as an international venue and he was confident that the match in Peshawar would also go off smoothly.

"The crowd response has been beyond our expectations. They have appreciated good cricket and applauded the Indians. We are confident that the match here will also be peaceful," he said.

"The Governor of Peshawar told me that it is a peaceful city. We wanted to hold a Test match here, but the Indians did not want to stay here for long, so we had to accommodate their concerns," he said.

The PCB chief said the ongoing series has proved that cricket diplomacy could work in bridging the gap between the two countries.

"Cricket diplomacy is working. It will help to rebuild the relations," Shaharyar said.

"The crowds have given a standing ovation to Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid for their performance. The crowd behaviour is the real parameter for judging the series. The basic goodwill is there as we share so much history and culture."

Shaharyar said there were "some teething" problems in the initial stages because the PCB had a short time to make the arrangements.

"We were not sure whether the Indians were coming or not. So when the tour was actually cleared, we got just 12 days or so."

He said that the PCB also planned to build a new stadium in Islamabad and also improve the infrastructure and capacity of some of the existing venues.

Asked whether they had received any information about the Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee visiting Lahore to witness a match, he said, "we have received no information about his visit. But he is most welcome."

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