Australia to tour Pakistan in two phases

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Lahore, Apr 22 (UNI) After several players showed their reluctance to tour Pakistan because of security concerns, Australia has finally agreed to tour the troubled nation in two phases.

''Australia has agreed to undertake their postponed tour, scheduled in March-April this year, in 2009 and 2010,'' said a joint statement issued by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Cricket Australia (CA) yesterday.

Australia will tour Pakistan in 2009 April and May for five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 match and will again fly back to the sub-continent in 2010 August and September for a three-Test series.

Earlier, Australia was scheduled to tour Pakistan this March but later postponed the tour in the wake of a series of suicide bombings before the February 18 national elections.

However, it was Australia's Future Tours Programme (FTP) obligations that forced the tour to be split into two parts.

The PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf said, ''Our discussions with CA showed both countries' strong desire to ensure the postponed matches were played in Pakistan.

''Although disappointed that the tour couldn't be completed as originally scheduled, the PCB is very pleased that the Australian team will come to play in Pakistan twice, in 2009 and again in 2010,'' he added.

Meanwhile, CA chairman Creagh O'Connor said although the Pakistan tour was postponed earlier this year but the national board was always committed to fulfill its international programmes.

''We are pleased to have reached agreement to travel to Pakistan to complete the postponed matches. Today's announcement demonstrates CA's commitment to fulfilling its obligations under the FTP and also to Pakistan cricket,'' O'Connor said.

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