Asanka Gurusinha    Getty Images
Asanka Gurusinha Getty Images

Sri Lankan team manager Asanka Gurusinha is confident his board will find the best way to handle a 24-hour fly-in, fly-out tour of Pakistan for a single Twenty20 match later this month. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said on Monday it will go ahead with its trip to Pakistan for the third and final Twenty20 match despite security concerns expressed by several players.

The first two matches will be played in Abu Dhabi on October 26 and 27. The visit would be Sri Lanka’s first to Pakistan since 2009 when masked gunmen ambushed the tourists’ team bus on its way to the ground during the second Test in Lahore.

The attacks killed eight people and left seven Sri Lanka players and a staff member injured, forcing international teams to stay away from Pakistan over security fears. Gurusinha, who is with Sri Lanka on their tour of the United Arab Emirates, hoped players with concerns over the trip will look into it.

“SLC will be speaking to most of the players to find the best way to handle it,” said Gurusinha, who played 41 Tests and 147 one-day internationals as a middle-order batsman in the 1980s and 1990s.

“It seems like we will be there in Lahore only for 24 hours. We are flying in and flying out. We are hoping that some of the players who had concerns will seriously look at it (the tour).”

– Solidarity –

Gurusinha, a member of Sri Lanka’s World Cup-winning team in 1996, said it was time to reciprocate Pakistan’s support prior to that tournament which came in the wake of a Colombo bomb blast that left 91 people dead and hundreds more injured.

“They (Pakistan team) came down to help us two weeks after the Central Bank bombing. Had they not come down, I am not too sure whether Kenya and Zimbabwe would have honoured World Cup fixtures in 1996,” said Gurusinha.

Australia and West Indies forfeited matches at the tournament over security fears due to the civil war in Sri Lanka against the Tamils, but a joint India-Pakistan team visited Sri Lanka to show solidarity.

India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka co-hosted the 1996 tournament.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has promised stringent security arrangements will be in place, at levels normally reserved for state heads. Since the 2009 attacks, Pakistan has only hosted Zimbabwe for a short limited-overs series in 2015 and the final of the Pakistan Super League in March this year. They also welcomed a World XI comprised of players from seven countries for a three-match Twenty20 series in Lahore last month.

“The security has been cleared. The team will seriously look at it and I am hopeful players will look at it favourably,” said Gurusinha. Asked which players were willing to go ahead with the tour, Gurusinha replied: “There are a lot of positives taking place. It is not nice to name the players.

“That’s what SLC is very interested in. There was positive feedback from most players.”

But Sri lankan media reported limited-overs captain Upul Tharanga and fast bowler Lasith Malinga have shown reservations over travelling to Lahore.