New Delhi: Forty contracted Sri Lankan players had written a letter to the board, indicating that they would not like to travel to Pakistan for the final T20I in Lahore. While 15 players have since mellowed their stance, the letter — signed by the entire current squad and contracted players — had requested the board to consider a venue change.
But Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has asked the Lankans to come and enjoy the experience of playing in the country.
“Come and enjoy Lahore, is my message. The people of Pakistan and the fans are going to enjoy your presence. You are going to be overawed by the occasion. It is going to be a sell out,” Arthur told Cricbuzz.
“I am incredibly excited that Sri Lanka are going to come. Having watched the World XI, the atmosphere was unbelievable. The anticipation and the excitement of the crowd was sensational. To have the World XI coming was amazing, but it will mean even more that the Sri Lankans are coming. To have a nation versus nation competition is what the fans want.”
Even as the Sri Lanka Cricket board chief announced that they will send their best team possible for the third and final T20I against Pakistan in Lahore, which is scheduled to be played on October 29, Cricbuzz reported that Sri Lanka's limited-overs captain Upul Tharanga had pulled out of the game after raising security concerns.
According to the report, only all-rounder Thisara Perera and two other players have given the go-ahead to tour Pakistan. There has been no international cricket in Pakistan since the attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009.
Speaking on the series, Arthur said: “Historically the two countries have had good relationships. The security around Lahore is second to none and I am happy the game is taking place. It is the right thing to do.
“I had a chat with Asanka (Gurusinha) and Nic (Pothas) and I told them that I had never felt any threat in Lahore at all. We are incredibly looked after. Lahore is a great city. I went and saw that they have got this thing called city safe project. They have CCTV cameras and everything is well protected.”