Fleming sympathises for Pakistan

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Wellington, Aug 1 (UNI) Former Black Caps skipper Stephen Fleming has urged New Zealand Cricket to take a stance on touring strife-torn Pakistan for September's Champions Trophy, instead of leaving individual players to decide.

Several high-profile players from a few competing nations including New Zealand, are likely to opt out of the tournament owing to security reasons, after the ICC last week confirmed Pakistan as hosts.

New Zealand are also scheduled to tour Pakistan for a three-ODI series in August but that too looks in doubt.

''I know I'd be reluctant if I was still there, although it's tough to say categorically without being privy to the security reports circulated,'' Fleming was quoted as saying by the 'New Zealand Herald'.

''But it's only going to demean the tournament as a spectacle if three or four of the leading nations send second-string sides, which is why the national body needs to step in and make the decision.'' The 35-year-old, who retired from both forms of the international cricket in March, though, felt a measure of sympathy for Pakistan, which has experienced several bomb blasts in major cities over the last few months.

India, too, was affected by blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad but there have been no reports yet of Australia or England cancelling or postponing their respective tours of the country later this year.

''I know the situation might not be 100 per cent there, but there's constant bomb blasts in India, and Sri Lanka's reputation (when it comes to terrorism) is hardly squeaky-clean,'' he said.

''You've got to wonder if Pakistan aren't questioning why they're the only ones being singled out,'' he added.

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