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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Sri Lanka Cricket defers naming T20 squad after players express Lahore security concern

Captain Upul Tharanga among doubtful names, forcing SLC to name 15-strong squad for three-match series on Friday

Sri Lanka's limited-overs captain Upul Tharanga is one of the players who has expressed concern about the trip to Lahore. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Sri Lanka's limited-overs captain Upul Tharanga is one of the players who has expressed concern about the trip to Lahore. Francois Nel / Getty Images

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has delayed naming its squad for the three-match Twenty20 international series against Pakistan after a majority of the players expressed reluctance to play the final game, in Lahore on October 29, due to security concerns.

The first two matches will be held in Abu Dhabi on October 26 and 27.

Anticipating the possibility of a handful of players pulling out, SLC had decided to announce a provisional 22-player squad on Tuesday and a final list of 15 on Friday. But with a majority having expressed concerns, it has instead opted to name the final squad on Friday, by which time it hopes to guarantee 15 players willing to make the trip.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka are involved in an ongoing bilateral series, which also includes two Tests and five one-day internationals. With the exception of the final T20, all the matches had been slated to be played across the Emirates.

Sri Lanka swept the two-Test series this month, but they trail their south-Asian rivals 2-0 in the ODIs.

Upul Tharanga, Sri Lanka's limited-overs captain, is one of SLC's 40 contracted players to have signed a letter addressed to the board expressing hesitation to travel to Lahore because of security concerns.

PCB's Lahore game promotion

The Sri Lankans are concerned, understandably because it was their team bus that came under attack by militants at Lahore in 2009. It took six years for an international series to be held in Pakistan, with Zimbabwe being outplayed by the hosts in all three ODIs and two T20s.

Asanka Gurusinha, the Sri Lanka manager, is quietly confident some players will change their minds given the Pakistan Cricket Board has provided a security clearance report.

“SLC will be speaking to most of the players to find the best way to handle it,” he said after the second ODI in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

“It seems like we will be there in Lahore only for 24 hours. We are flying in and flying out. The security [question] has been cleared. The team will seriously look at it and I am hopefully players will look at favourably.”

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In a separate development, the SLC's executive committee has revised the suspension it imposed on Danushka Gunathilaka, clearing the way for the opener to return in time for the T20s.

Gunathilaka, 26, was suspended for six International matches and fined 20 per cent of his Annual Contract fee for misconduct during their home series against India last month.

The revised suspension comes after an appeal from Sinhalese Sports Club, for whom he plays in the country’s Premier League, making him eligible to play for his country when the fourth ODI gets underway in Sharjah on Friday.

Meanwhile Pakistan on Tuesday recalled left-arm paceman Mohammed Amir and all-rounder Mohammed Hafeez to their 16-man squad for the T20s.

Amir suffered a shin injury during the second Test in Dubai but has been recalled following rehabilitation.

Sarfraz Ahmed, who led Pakistan in both the Tests and ODIs, will captain them in the shortest format.

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Pakistan T20 series squad

Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shahzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammed Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammed Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Amir Yamin, Mohammed Amir (subject to fitness clearance), Rumman Raees, Usman Shinwari, Umar Amin

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