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It’s safety first on tour of Pakistan, say New Zealand

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New Zealand Cricket will assess the level of security in Pakistan before signing off on a short tour there this year.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has announced New Zealand will play three one-day internationals ahead of September�s ICC Champions Trophy.

An NZC spokesman said the tour had been agreed in principle but would be subject to a check of safety and logistical matters.

Discussions over venues and dates for the tour wouldn�t be finalised until after the security assessment.

It follows Australia�s decision to postpone their tour to Pakistan in March-April for security reasons.

That month-long tour was put on hold after a spate of suicide bombings following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

Cricket Australia yesterday announced its tour had been split in two - in April-May next year for the limited overs matches and in August-September 2010 for three tests.

It is more than four years since New Zealand toured Pakistan, losing a one-day series 0-5 in December 2003. Their tour in May 2002 was cut short when a suicide bomb exploded outside their Karachi hotel, killing 14 people.

This year�s Champions Trophy, starting on September 11, has been restricted to just three venues for security reasons - Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi.

An International Cricket Council security delegation will carry out a final inspection visit of venues in June, with Sri Lanka designated as a reserve host country if the tournament is deemed unsafe.

New Zealand have a 10-week gap in their programme between the tour of England, which finishes on July 3, and their first Champions Trophy match against Sri Lanka on September 12.

Shafqat Naghmi, chief operating officer of the PCB board, said it had invited New Zealand as part of efforts to arrange international games in the absence of Australia.

�They (New Zealand) have confirmed they want to play the three games but they want to do it closer to the Champions Trophy so an itinerary is now being worked out. �We wanted New Zealand to play five matches but they have agreed on three due to the hectic Champions Trophy schedule.�

He said Pakistan had invited West Indies for a one-day series in August but they had declined because of commitments in Canada.
Source:Cricket News

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