'Good decision to host Pakistan's WC matches in Lanka'

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/i/inzamam.jpg' class='caption'> Former players and officials on Monday welcomed the orgainsers decision to schedule all the league matches of Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup in Sri Lanka.

Updated: November 10, 2009 08:01 IST
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Former players and officials on Monday welcomed the orgainsers decision to schedule all the league matches of Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup in Sri Lanka, saying not playing in India was in the best interest of both the nations.

"It is best for our team that they are not playing their World Cup matches in India when relations between both countries continue to be tense," former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said.

"It means that the World Cup will not be become a political instrument if the relations between India and Pakistan remain tense during the tournament," added Inzamam, who is Pakistan's most capped player.

Former Test batsman Basit Ali said it was disappointing to see Indian fans being robbed off the opportunity to witness Pakistani players in action.

"But perhaps it is best for us to play our group matches in Sri Lanka. Hopefully by then conditions would have improved and if we qualify for knockout stages then we can play in India," he said.

Sources in the PCB said Chairman Ejaz Butt had not pressurised the ICC against scheduling Pakistan's matches in India.

"No but I think the ICC also realised keeping in view the existing relations it would be best to avoid any problems at the time of the tournament although there is still 13 months left for the event to take place," a Pakistan Cricket Board source said.

Cricket relations between India and Pakistan have been affected after last November's Mumbai terror with the India canceling a scheduled Test tour of the troubled nation early this year.

Subsequently, the Pakistan government stopped its players from taking part in the second Indian Premier League which was later shifted to South Africa earlier this year.

Another former skipper Rashid Latif said from cricketing and logistical point of view it was good that Pakistan would be based in Sri Lanka.

"We have a good track record in Sri Lanka but the only worry is that we will be playing at two brand new venues like Pallekele and Hambantota.

"But we are in a tough pool with Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand so it is going to be a tough tournament," Latif said.

Latif also noted that with Pakistan playing in Sri Lanka, Pakistani supporters would not face problems travelling top the island country.

"Travelling would have been difficult for Pakistanis if we had to play in India," he said.

Former chief executive of the PCB Arif Abbasi pointed out that given the bad blood created between the two nations, it was a sensible decision on ICC and organiser's part to keep Pakistan's group matches in Sri Lanka.

However, he expressed disappointment that fans back home would not be able to see World Cup matches in Pakistan.

"Let us hope the situation improves soon and we can again host international teams. The World Cup is an event that Pakistan's cricket authorities played a big role in bringing to the subcontinent for the first time in 1987 and then again in 1996," he noted.

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