Pakistan urges Sri Lanka tour despite trouble

Pakistan have officially invited Sri Lanka to contest a home series in the hope that the two governments can sort out a tour due to start in October, an official said on Sunday.

Gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team in March 2009 in Lahore injuring seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach and killing eight Pakistanis.

Pakistan blamed the assault on the Taliban, and the national side has since been forced to play its home series at neutral venues.

Since then no foreign team has toured Pakistan on security fears, although Afghanistan's team is scheduled to tour Pakistan from Tuesday but it seems unlikely to inspire bigger cricketing nations to follow suit.

"We have sent an official invitation to Sri Lanka Cricket to play the series of three Tests, five One-day Internationals and one Twenty20 match in Pakistan in October-November this year,"  Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) spokesman Nadeem Sarwar told AFP on Sunday.

PCB chairman Ijaz Butt last week met interior minister Rehman Malik who assured him of security for the touring teams and instructed Butt to convince Sri Lanka to play in Pakistan.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) chief Somachandra de Silva hinted they might visit but said everything will depend on security and clearance from a Pakistan Task Team (PTT), formed by the International Cricket Council in 2009.

The ICC formed the Pakistan Task Team (PTT) with England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke to find ways of reviving international cricket in Pakistan and to help improve its disciplinary situation.

Even before the Lahore attacks, Pakistan was a no-go area for international teams because of security fears sparked in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, which sparked a "war on terror" on its borders.

The ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat earlier this month said no team was willing to tour Pakistan soon because of its security situation.

Pakistan have been forced to play its home series in the United Arab Emirates, England and New Zealand.

SLC have also offered Pakistan the chance to play the October-November series on its home soil.

"Sri Lanka have offered their grounds to host the series as well as another series in which we have to host England early next year and we may consider that option," PCB official Subhan Ahmed said last week.

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