ICL: Indian Cricket League

PCB confident Ranatunga will accept ODI proposal


National cricket bosses will host Sri Lanka’s board chief Arjuna Ranatunga next week in Lahore to discuss a number of issues ranging from this summer’s Asia Cup to be a proposed one-day series between the two countries, writes Khalid Hussain.

Ranatunga, a former Sri Lanka captain who is also the chief of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), is scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on March 20.During his visit, Ranatunga will meet top Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials including the PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf.

The main item on the agenda will be the Asia Cup which Pakistan are scheduled to host in Lahore and Karachi from June 25 to July 6.The Sri Lankans had shown security concerns for their players but following assurances from the PCB, they have confirmed their participation in the troubled tournament.

Last month, Asia’s top cricket-playing nations — India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — confirmed their participation in the event.Associate members Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates will also feature in the tournament which is being held for the first time since Sri Lanka hosted it in 2004.

Earlier this year, Ranatunga, who lifted the 1996 World Cup in Lahore as Sri Lanka skipper, had offered to host the Asia Cup in case Pakistan opted to back down as hosts because of security problems. His offer came in the wake former premier Benazir Bhutto’s assassination on December 27, 2007 and was rejected by Pakistan.

After some uncertainty, top PCB officials are claiming that the 2008 Asia Cup is secure.“The Asia Cup is now 100 percent confirmed,” PCB chief Nasim Ashraf told ‘The News’ on Friday. “All competing teams have in fact reconfirmed their participation in the tournament, he added.

For the PCB, the primary importance of Ranatunga’s visit is that it would give them a perfect opportunity to convince him over a proposed five-match One-day International (ODI) series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka next month.

Pakistan were left scrambling to fill in their home season that was left barren after Australia backed out of their commitment to tour this country for Tests and one-dayers in March-April.The PCB has managed to confirm five ODIs and a Twenty20 International against Test minnows Bangladesh early in April and are now making efforts to follow up that series with another similar assignment at home against Sri Lanka, the 2007 World Cup finalists.

Ashraf said that he was very hopeful that the Sri Lankans, who has earlier turned down a similar PCB request last month because of a ‘hectic international schedule’ will agree this time. “We are very hopeful about hosting Sri Lanka for a one-day series next month,” he said.

In the coming weeks, the Sri Lankans will be busy touring the West Indies but are scheduled to finish the Caribbean assignment on April 17. “We believe that there is a small window end of April where we can fix an ODI series against them,” said the PCB chief.

Source:Cricket News

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