Pakistan to 'host' Lanka, England in UAE

Pakistan will play their next "home" series against Sri Lanka and England in the neutral United Arab Emirates, an official said on Tuesday, as security concerns continue to scare off foreign teams.

The announcement comes after Sri Lanka turned down an invitation to return to Pakistan, just two years after a deadly militant ambush in Lahore wounded seven of their players and an assistant coach.

"We have finalised both the series against Sri Lanka and England and both will be played in Abu Dhabi and Dubai," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) director operations Zakir Khan told AFP.

Pakistan will face Sri Lanka in October and November, and England in January and February in the Middle Eastern country, he said.

Pakistan have not hosted a top foreign team since the Lahore attack, which left eight people dead and forced the International Cricket Council to ditch the country as co-hosts of this year's World Cup.

Khan also rejected comments from England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke that Sri Lanka could host Pakistan's Tests against England.

"We did consider a number of options for both the series but it is the right of the home board to decide the venue and finally we have confirmed UAE for all the matches in both the series," said Khan.

Pakistan will play three Tests, five one-day matches and a Twenty20 against Sri Lanka.
The England schedule will be "finalised soon" but it will feature three Tests, up to five one-day matches and one or two Twenty20 games.

Even before the 2009 attack, Pakistan had been forced to play home series at neutral venues as it became increasingly unstable during the "war on terror" and US-led campaign in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Pakistan have played the West Indies, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in UAE in the last nine years.

They were also forced to play their home series against New Zealand -- who were caught up in a bomb blast in 2002 -- in New Zealand, and last year "hosted" Australia in England.

Australia have not toured Pakistan since 1998 over security fears, while England last toured Pakistan in 2005 -- a visit which passed off without incident.

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