Karachi omitted from Australia ~~A~~ itinerary

Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Pakistan has bowed down to Australia's demand of not playing any matches in Karachi during their 'A' team's tour next month. The England Cricket Board too had rejected the venue earlier.

The Australians, who are scheduled to play two unofficial four-day 'Tests' and three One-dayers only in Rawalpindi and Lahore, starting in the first week of September, had categorically excluded Karachi as a venue because of security concerns.

"It was when the Cricket Australia (CA) reacted strongly and said they were canceling the tour that (PCB chairman) Shaharyar (Khan) had to intervene and convince them the problem had arisen because of miscommunication and they would only be required to play in Lahore and Rawalpindi," a Board source was quoted as saying by the The News.

The Australians informed the Pakistan Cricket Board they would not tour after receiving an itinerary that included Karachi as a venue.

"Chairman Shaharyar Khan and Senior General Manager Cricket Operations Zakir Khan had told the Australians in initial discussions that their matches would only be based in Lahore and Rawalpindi.

"Since the Australians had made it clear they were not interested in playing at Karachi at all, the PCB officials informed them their itinerary would only include the two venues," the sources said.

But Director Cricket Operations, Saleem Altaf and another senior official were unaware of the understanding and sent an itinerary, proposing matches at four venues, including Karachi.

"Apparently, Altaf was not aware of the discussions his chairman and Zakir had already had with the Australians when he sent the proposed itinerary with the help of the other official which is the normal routine in the Board."

The sources said Shaharyar and some other officials themselves were not in favour of the Australians playing in Karachi as they feared that any untoward incident during the visit could affect England's tour in October.

"So, basically, they also wanted to avoid having the Australians play in Karachi as the Australians could have raised a furore if something went wrong and this would have created problems for the England series," he added.

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