Sri Lanka ‘keen’ to play Pakistan in Lahore

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) president Thilanga Sumathipala has all but confirmed that his country’s cricket team will play an international match in Pakistan in September or October.

Pakistan last hosted internationals in 2015 when Zimbabwe toured for five ODIs but have not had any high profile team tour their country since 2009 when the Sri Lanka team bus was attacked by gunman and six policemen and two civilians were killed.

Sri Lanka and Pakistan are due to play each other in a full T20I series that starts at the end of September and Sumathipala wants one of those matches to be played in Lahore, where the 2009 took pace.

Sumathipala said: “I am keen to take my team to Pakistan. We have had our security experts visit and make an assessment, and things look positive with things improving all over the country and especially Lahore being cleared.

“We have three T20 games coming up against Pakistan in September and we would like to play at least one of those games in Lahore.

“I call upon each one of you as members to play your role and give Pakistan the security of your support.

“There is always risk – there were two attacks in London during the Champions Trophy – but cricket continued under the security assurances of the ICC, so likewise we too must be as accommodating and understanding as possible with our members and extend our fullest support to them as the cricketing family of Asia.”

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that he had a meeting with Sumathipala at the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) AGM on Saturday.

Sethi said preparations will now get underway to host their Asian neighbours and he hopes it will open doors for other teams to tour Pakistan.

The PCB’s chairman said: “The SLC president and I had very fruitful talks on the sidelines of the ACC meet in Colombo on August 11 and 12. I am grateful for his decision to support our efforts to bring international cricket back to Pakistan.

“We shall start preparations to stage one or two T20 matches in October in Lahore. This is a historic decision. Once Sri Lanka have toured Pakistan, the door will be open for safe passage of other teams to Pakistan.”