Sri Lanka’s depleted national cricket squad left for Pakistan on Tuesday expressing confidence in security promises by the hosts despite reports that the team could be targeted by militants.
The Sri Lanka team were attacked in Lahore in 2009. Since then most international teams have refused to tour the South Asian country, leaving Pakistan to play nearly all their “home” games in the United Arab Emirates.
Ten senior players citing security concerns have opted out of the tour comprising three one-day internationals and three T20 matches beginning on Friday.
But the captain of the T20 squad, Dasun Shanaka, said Tuesday he had no misgivings about returning to Pakistan after they played a T20 international in Lahore in October 2017, their first since the 2009 attack.
“I have been there before,” Shanaka told reporters just before the team left Colombo where they were blessed by saffron-robed Buddhist monks.
“I am satisfied with the security arranged for us and I am happy to lead my team to Pakistan. We hope to give a good fight to our very strong hosts.
Sri Lanka National team left SLC head quarters this morning to embark on their tour to Pakistan. Sri Lanka will play a three-match ODI series in Karachi and three T20Is in Lahore. #PAKvSL pic.twitter.com/tiaTSxgpNh
— Sri Lanka Cricket ?? (@OfficialSLC) September 24, 2019
ODI skipper Lahiru Thirimanne said he also had no concerns and they had been given assurances of a very high degree of protection in Pakistan, usually reserved for visits by heads of state.
Sri Lanka’s cricket board received the all-clear from the defence ministry last week to go ahead with the tour after establishing that there was no threat.