PCB ready to shift India series

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/p/pcb-logo.jpg' class='caption'> Fearing that security concerns could lead to the cancellation of India's tour next year, PCB said it was ready to shift the series to neutral venues.

Updated: November 13, 2008 17:14 IST
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Fearing that security concerns could lead to the cancellation of India's tour of Pakistan next year, the cricket board on Thursday said it was ready to shift the series to neutral venues like Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Sharjah.

Within hours, Abu Dhabi Cricket Council Chief Executive, Dilawar Mani, said they would be more than happy to host the high-profile series.

"If Pakistan is not able to host the Indians at home for some reasons, we will be willing to stage the matches free of cost," Mani said.

Earlier, Pakistan Cricket Board's newly appointed Chief Executive Officer, Saleem Altaf, said PCB would love to have the series in Pakistan but in case India refused to tour on security grounds, the board is open to hosting it at a neutral venue.

"So far we are confident and our policy remains to first try to keep on convincing teams to play as scheduled in Pakistan which we will also ask the Indians to do and hope they will do so," he said.

"(At the same time) we do not disregard the option of shifting the series to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah or some other country. England is also willing to play hosts for the Test and One-dayers, so we have options.

"The bottom line is that we need finances for the sport to survive and thrive in Pakistan and we can only earn money if we keep on playing international matches," Altaf said.

India is scheduled to visit Pakistan for three Tests, five ODIs and a Twenty20 match but the cricket establishment is jittery here after the cancellation of the Indian junior hockey team's Pakistan tour this month on security grounds.

Most touring countries have avoided Pakistan in recent past for the volatile situation here and the International Cricket Council had to postpone the Champions Trophy in September for the same reason.

Altaf, meanwhile, reckons Pakistan's chances of hosting the Champions Trophy next year would depend a lot on whether India tours the country early next year.

"The ICC has kept the Indian tour to Pakistan as a benchmark for deciding on the relocation of the Champions Trophy because of the security situation in the country," Altaf said.

Although the ICC has rescheduled the tournament to September-October next year in Pakistan, its executive board will take a final call on the venue in March or June next year.

ADCC, however, is fancying its chances and Mani said the India-Pakistan series could be hosted in the Emirates as besides Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah also have international standard grounds.

"The Dubai Sports City ground is also ready to be launched soon so we have three venues right now," he added.

He pointed out that international cricket was a viable proposition in the Emirate states because of the large concentration of people from the sub-continent, particularly in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik said his country was ready to extend every possible cooperation in this regard.

"We will extend every possible cooperation in this regard. Teams have been coming to Pakistan. They have been playing," he said.

"Different sporting activities are going on. And if there are any concerns we would address those concerns," he said.

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