New Zealand likely to send a depleted team to Pakistan for CT

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Christchurch, Jul 20 (UNI) While the PCB is keeping its figers crossed on getting a go-ahead to host the Champions Trophy in the International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting today, it is extremely unlikely that a full-strength New Zealand side will tour the troubled nation in September this year.

The ICC will host the meeting in Dubai today and has invited representatives of FICA, the federation of players' associations, and member boards.

New Zealand manager Lindsay Crocker and players' association boss Heath Mills will be at the meeting where the ICC will divulge the results of its security reports.

Before leaving for Dubai, Mills said even if the ICC gave Pakistan a clean chit on security fears, it didn't mean there wouldn't be a number of high-profile withdrawals.

Mills reiterated that several players have expressed concern to him and the only reason nobody has come out and said ''no'' to the tour ''is because nobody has yet asked them that question directly''.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has agreed in principle to play three one-day internationals in Pakistan before the Champions Trophy in September.

There are fresh security fears in the subcontinent country following a suicide blast in Islamabad earlier this month that killed 19 people. The largest city, Karachi, has also been hit by a series of bombings.

In a statement before the meeting, the ICC said, ''The ICC will not indulge in speculation and, at this stage, the tournament will proceed in Pakistan, as scheduled.'' The tournament is due to be held in Karachi, Rawalpindi - which adjoins Islamabad - and Lahore from September 11-28.

Pakistan hosted a trouble-free six-nation Asia Cup in June and July and officials remain bullish about their ability to host a tournament that will likely shift to either Sri Lanka, South Africa or England if security reports are damning.

''We have assured fool-proof security measures for the Champions Trophy,'' Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi said.

''There is no reason for us to believe that the tournament will be relocated from Pakistan,'' Nagmi added.

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