Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 November 2019

Sharjah offers to host Pakistan against Sri Lanka series

Although not yet asked, UAE willing to step in after security concerns resulted in 10 senior Sri Lanka players refusing to play in the upcoming tour

Pakistan's Sarfaraz Ahmed plays a shot during their Test match against Australia in the UAE in 2018. AP
Pakistan's Sarfaraz Ahmed plays a shot during their Test match against Australia in the UAE in 2018. AP

Sharjah cricket officials say they would be happy to host Pakistan’s series against Sri Lanka if required, but have not been approached to do so.

Pakistan are due to play a limited-overs series against the Sri Lankans on home soil, starting later this month.

However, 10 senior Sri Lanka players have already pulled out of the tour because of security concerns.

The Sri Lankan cricket board then announced they had been warned by their government about a possible terrorist threat during the tour.

“[Sri Lanka Cricket] has been advised to take extreme care and reassess the situation before embarking on the tour,” the board said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board have reiterated they intend to go ahead with the series as planned, even Sri Lanka tour with an understrength side.

That reinforces their intention of staging all international cricket, as well as the Pakistan Super League, on home soil from now on.

For the past decade, almost all of Pakistan’s “home” series have been played in exile in the UAE. If the PCB were to attempt to switch the series to the emirates, it would likely prove difficult to accommodate.

The T20 World Cup Qualifier will be staged in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in October and November, while the Abu Dhabi T10 runs from November 14 to 24 at Zayed Cricket Stadium.

Sharjah Cricket Stadium would be available. Mazhar Khan, the ground’s administrator, says they have not been sounded out, either formally or informally, but they would do their best to accommodate the sides if required.

“We have been together for the past 40 years so if they come, we would be happy to host them,” Mazhar said.

As well as Pakistan vacating the fields of UAE this winter, the Afghanistan Premier League will also be absent from the calendar.

The T20 franchise league was inaugurated last season, when it was played in Sharjah.

It attracted a variety of star names, and produced some memorable cricket, such as when Hazratullah Zazai hit six sixes in an over in one of the league matches.

However, it was also sullied by poor organisation, financial problems for a number of the franchises, as well as allegations of corruption.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board announced on Thursday that the league has been postponed, with a view to starting again in 2020.

“The ACB today terminated the Afghanistan Premier League Sanction and Commercial Rights Agreement with Snixer Sports and postponed season II of the league to next year,” the board said.

“The failure by Snixer Sports to pay the complete rights fees of the first edition as per the fees and payment schedule of the agreement, and concerns about risks for integrity of the league posed by people connected to Snixer Sports, are the reasons for termination.

“ACB also wrote to the Attorney General’s Office of the Government of Afghanistan to fully investigate the administrative allegations of corruption in the league.”

Updated: September 12, 2019 06:39 PM

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