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Pak vs Aus: PCB may move limited-overs matches to Lahore

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s white-ball home series against Australia, slated to start March 29, is likely to be moved to Lahore if the situation stays volatile in the federal capital in the backdrop of mounting political tensions.

The changing political scenario and chance of a conflict-like situation in Islamabad have forced the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to prepare a contingency plan.

However, a decision on this is still under consideration and the PCB is yet to cancel the hotel booking in Islamabad where both squads have to check-in on March 26.

“All the four white-ball matches will be shifted to Gaddafi Stadium where teams are set to play the final Test of the series starting from March 21 in case the political situation in Islamabad stays the same till March 20,” a PCB official said.

The bulk of the Australian white-ball team members are to arrive in Lahore on March 24.

The official said that the Board has finalised a contingency plan which will be in operation from March 20.

“If there is a marked change in the volatile political situation in Islamabad, we would stay with our original schedule and that is to organise all white-ball matches (from March 29-April 5) including three One-Dayers and one-off T20 at the Pindi Stadium. Otherwise, these matches will be shifted to Lahore.”

He said that there is a growing possibility that all the limited-overs matches will be staged in Lahore as the political situation grows intense with each passing day in and around Islamabad.

The official added that safety and security of the teams and accompanied officials would be the top priority.

“We cannot take even one percent risk when it comes to the safety and security of both teams. Though the room booked at a leading hotel in Islamabad is intact, there is a growing possibility that the matches will now be held at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on the same dates. The hotel where teams stayed for the first Test and would be staying for limited-overs matches falls within the red-zone where political parties are planning all these activities. So, no change in political situation in Islamabad by March 20 means all the four limited-overs matches will be shifted to Lahore.”

When asked whether the PCB has taken Cricket Australia (CA) in confidence on the possible change in the venue, the official said that no such move has so far been made.

“There is no need to talk to CA on the possible change in the venue. Since the safety and security of both the teams is the main concern so we don’t think any side would have any objection. The matter is related to political tension in and around the capital, the PCB is adamant to make the most appropriate decision. The CA will be intimated once things get clearer.”

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