PCB may approach England, NZ, Bangladesh for alternative series if Oz back out

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Karachi, Mar 8 : With Cricket Australia (CA) seeming less and less interested in playing in Pakistan and delaying its final response to the PCB, the latter is reportedly mulling contacting England and New Zealand for a tri-series.

Pakistan-Australia series was scheduled for March-end, but the visitors are taking the present security scenario seriously, especially after last week's incidents of suicide blasts.

PCB sources said that England, New Zealand and Bangladesh were the only three Test-playing teams without any international commitments in April.

The PCB, which is still awaiting a final word from the Australians over the bilateral series, is yet to make contact with these countries but will have to try and line up matches against any one of them in case the Aussies opted against visiting Pakistan, The News quoted the sources as saying.

Cricket Australia (CA) seems almost certain to pull out of the tour of Pakistan which was supposed to begin on March 29 after receiving a briefing from their foreign ministry officials on Pakistan's security situation earlier this week, added the paper.

Indications are rife from Australia that the only way to save the series is to move to a neutral venue, but the PCB continues to rule out such an option. The Board officials know from past experience that allowing a home series to be played on neutral soil is almost a useless option for the host nation. Pakistan agreed to play the home series against Australia in 2002 in Sri Lanka and UAE and ended up without gaining anything out of it.

That is precisely the reason why the PCB is making efforts to line up some international games at home during March-April to avoid a completely barren season rather than opting for offshore matches.

Top PCB officials have identified England, New Zealand and Bangladesh as the three teams which can be invited for an ODI series to fill in for the Aussies. The Board officials describe it as a worse case scenario but point out that Pakistan will have to line up some sort of matches to salvage what seems to be a dismal home season because of Australia's reluctance in visiting Pakistan.

A PCB official said that the Board was confident enough of finalising a one-day series with a Test-playing nation in spite of the fact that its past two attempts failed to yield desired results.

ANI

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