Zimbabwe~~s crisis clears way for tri-series

Published: Thursday, January 19, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Faisalabad:Zimbabwe's decision to suspend its Test status for the rest of the year has given India and Pakistan a chance to firm up plans for a lucrative One-day series later this year.

The Asian rivals hope to rope in world champions Australia for a tri-series in September ahead of the International Cricket Council's Champions Trophy in India in October-November.

The tri-series, which will be held in India or Pakistan, will replace Zimbabwe's scheduled tour of Pakistan in September.

"We now have the option of going ahead with the tri-series," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan told AFP on Thursday.

"When we discussed it with Indian officials earlier this month, the only hurdle was that Zimbabwe was due to tour Pakistan in September.

"But now that Zimbabwe have themselves withdrawn their Test status, that hurdle has gone."

The tri-series has been tentatively scheduled to run between September 12 and October 5, soon after Pakistan return from a tour of England and before the Champions Trophy tournament begins in India from October 7.

The crisis-ridden Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) announced on Wednesday it was suspending its national team from Test matches for the rest of the year in a bid to build for the future.

Zimbabwe Cricket, which has been split by ongoing claims of racism, corruption and player strikes, was taken over by the Robert Mugabe government last month.

Pakistan's Khan said he was not surprised by Zimbabwe's decision to back out of Test cricket.

"They have been having problems and it is now for the ICC to address those problems," he said. "The standard of cricket had gone down in Zimbabwe but I was not expecting them to stand down for the rest of the year."

Senior Indian cricket official Raj Singh Dungarpur said he hoped Zimbabwe will be stronger when it returns to the world stage.

"It is always sad to lose a Test nation but there was a lot of turmoil in their cricket," Dungarpur, the manager of the touring Indian team here, told AFP.

"Zimbabwe should now concentrate on improving their standard by playing against non-Test nations like Kenya and return next year a competitive side."

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