SLC keen to host cricket amid security concerns

Published: Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Colombo:Sri Lanka's cricket authorities will know if their efforts to salvage the limited-overs tri-series against India and South Africa have borne fruit.

The tri-series hung in the balance after South Africa indicated they wanted to return home following Monday's blast close to their team hotel in the Sri Lankan capital that killed seven people and injured eight.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has called a meeting between security agencies and representatives of the Indian and South African teams on Tuesday to decide the fate of the series scheduled to run till August 29.

Even if South Africa pull out, the SLC indicated it was keen to host a bilateral One-day matches with India in place of the tri-series.

"Yes, the possibility of India playing Sri Lanka was discussed, but we will not move further till we know whether South Africa are staying or going," a senior Sri Lankan cricket official told AFP.

The official, who did not wish to be named, added the television company producing the tri-series would back a bilateral face-off.

The Indian team has - for the time being - decided against cancelling it's tour following increased security and positive indications from the Indian diplomatic mission in Colombo.

"There is no panic within the team," manager Sanjay Jagdale said on Tuesday. "I have kept the team informed of our discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket and our High Commission (embassy) here.

"We will go for the meeting with an open mind. The SLC has promised it will convey to us what the Sri Lankan government's advice is."

South African media manager Gordon Templeton said the team management was in constant touch with cricket officials back home who, in turn, were seeking advice from the department of foreign affairs.

"We will know soon what happens," said Templeton.

South African journalists travelling with the team said the players had decided at a meeting late on Monday night they wanted to return home, but this could not be immediately confirmed.

The meeting on Tuesday comes hours before the rescheduled opening match of the tri-series between South Africa and the hosts at the Preamadasa stadium from 2.30 pm (0900 GMT).

The match was due to be played on Monday but was called off due to heavy rains. The weather had cleared on Tuesday morning.

The blast on Monday targeted Pakistan's ambassador Bashir Wali Mohamed, who escaped unhurt but a Sri Lankan military vehicle escorting him was hit by the explosion.

It was the first time in 21 years that a foreigner had been targeted in an attack in Sri Lanka's three-decades-old separatist campaign.

The attack came a week after a powerful car bomb attack on a government Tamil politician in Colombo. The politician escaped but his bodyguard and two bystanders were killed.

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