Karachi: Pakistan has sent a two-man team to the United Arab Emirates to assess security arrangements for next month's series against Australia amid heightened safety demands, an official said Tuesday.
A brazen attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team bus in Lahore on March 3, in which seven players and their assistant coach were wounded, has raised security fears for global sporting events.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief operating officer Salim Altaf vowed to guarantee the best security for the Australian team. "Since the March 3 attacks, there is a heightened security need for all sports in the world and hopefully we will finalise the best security in cooperation with the UAE government," Altaf said.
Even before the attacks on Sri Lankan team, Pakistan had been a danger zone for foreign teams. Australia, which postponed a tour of Pakistan in March last year, forced their hosts to shift the series to the UAE.
Last month, the International Cricket Council (ICC) shifted the eight-team Champions Trophy from Pakistan to South Africa after several teams refused to play in the country, where Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants are hunkered down.
"The ICC is taking extraordinary measures to make the game safe and have devised an extensive security plan which must be implemented during all cricket events," said Altaf, a former Pakistan fast bowler.
Pakistan face Australia in five one-day matches. They play the first two in Dubai, on April 22 and 24, before playing the next three games in Abu Dhabi, on April 27, May 1 and 3. They play the Twenty20 in Dubai on May 7.
Altaf said the two-man team will attend a presentation by the Dubai and Abu Dhabi police to finalise security arrangements. "Police officials in Dubai and Abu Dhabi will give a presentation to our team and hopefully we finalise things in the next couple of days," he said.
Altaf refused to comment on Pakistani media reports that Australia had demanded accommodation in hotels close to the stadiums to minimise travelling time.
"We are in regular touch with the Australian officials and the arrangements will be the best," said Altaf. Australia's last visited Pakistan in 1998.
Australia forced Pakistan to play on neutral venues in Sri Lanka and Sharjah in 2002, a year after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and the subsequent US-led invasion of Afghanistan, where Australian troops operate.