After being attacked in Lahore during their 2009 tour, Sri Lanka’s national cricket team left for Pakistan on Tuesday (September 24) showing confidence in security promises made by the hosts.
Despite reports that the team could be targeted again by militants, the country has decided to go ahead with the tour as scheduled.
Since 2009, most international teams have refused to tour the South Asian country, leaving Pakistan to play nearly all their “home” games in the United Arab Emirates.
The Sri Lankan squad will have a depleted sight in the upcoming tour comprising three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches beginning on Friday (September 27) as ten senior players have opted out citing security concerns.
However, the squad’s T20 skipper, Dasun Shanaka, said on Tuesday (September 24) that he had no apprehensions about returning to Pakistan after they played a game of the shortest format in Lahore in October 2017, their first since the attack.
“I have been there before. I am satisfied with the security arranged for us and I am happy to lead my team to Pakistan. We hope to give a good fight to our very strong hosts,” Shanaka told reporters just before the team left Colombo where they were blessed by saffron-robed Buddhist monks.
In fact, the hots also got support from Sri Lanka’s ODI skipper Lahiru Thirimanne.
He said that even he had no concerns over the security of the team and have been given assurances of a high degree of protection in Pakistan, usually reserved for visits by heads of state.
Sri Lanka’s cricket board received the all-clear from the defence ministry last week to go ahead with the tour after establishing that there was no threat.
The 2009 attack left six players injured when gunmen attacked their bus. Six Pakistan policemen and two civilians were killed.
One-day internationals (all in Karachi): September 27, 29, October 2.
Twenty20 internationals (all Lahore): October 5, 7, 9.
(With inputs from agencies)