PCB optimistic to host Champions Trophy

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Lahore, Jul 20 (UNI) Ahead of the crucial International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting in Dubai today, the PCB chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi was confident that Pakistan will be retained as the hosts for the upcoming Champions Trophy in September.

Naghmi said he was positive that Pakistan will host the Champions Trophy in spite of the fact that key players from several competing nations have been expressing security concerns and may boycott the eight-nation tournament.

''We are sure that the players and officials participating in the Champions Trophy will be as safe in Pakistan as anywhere in the world,'' Naghmi was quoted as saying by 'The News'.

''We have conveyed this message to the ICC and the competing nations. It is not a hollow promise because we have time and again proved that Pakistan is a safe destination for international sporting events and the Asia Cup is the latest example,'' he added.

Earlier this month, Pakistan successfully hosted the Asia Cup that featured India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, UAE and Hong Kong which was held without any untoward incident.

But Naghmi is aware that the Champions Trophy is a different matter as it will feature countries like defending champions Australia, who cancelled this year's tour of Pakistan because of security fears.

Australia, England and New Zealand are of the view that their players could be a target in Pakistan. Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds has already indicated that he might skip the Champions Trophy if it is held in Pakistan and there are fears that several of his other star compatriots might follow suit.

A source in the PCB said that senior Board officials have talked to key officials in several countries in recent days in a bid to save the Champions Trophy.The source said that Pakistan has also received assurances from the powerful Indian cricket board and from Sri Lanka that they would back the PCB in case there is a move to relocate the Champions Trophy.

Incidentally, Sri Lanka is the reserve venue for the Champions Trophy. But there have been reports that if the event is moved from Pakistan then it will be held either in South Africa or England because Sri Lanka's political situation is far from stable.

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