Pakistan looks to take on Sri Lanka in bilateral ODI series

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Lahore, Sep 7 (UNI) With South Africa pulling out of the proposed tri-series, Pakistan is now looking to play in a five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka later this month.

''The Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has shown an interest in hosting Pakistan for a five-match ODI series later this month,'' sources in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) told 'The News'.

After the postponement of the high-profile Champions Trophy, the Sri Lanka tour has emerged as a very good chance for Pakistan players to experience some top class cricketing action.

The strife-torn nation were supposed to host the eight-nation tournament from September 12 to 28 but due to security concerns voiced by various teams --South Africa, Australia, England and New Zealand-- the International Cricket Council (ICC) postponed it till October 2009.

However, to compensate the for Champions Trophy, the PCB proposed to Cricket South Africa (CSA) to host a tri-series involving the hosts, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But after a few positive developments, the plans failed as CSA was unable to attract any broadcaster for the event.

The CSA was also under pressure from its players as they were against the idea of having the tri-series immediately after a marathon tour of England.

However, on PCB's part, they were mulling the idea of staging a tri-series in Abu Dhabi with the support of the local cricket officials and promoters. But for materialising such a plan at a short notice would require an arduous effort.

The PCB has a 15 day-window to hold the tri-series by the end of September, as almost all leading teams will get back to their future tour commitments from early next month.

A senior PCB official said, ''It would be difficult to rope in leading teams at such short notice and another challenging task will be to sign television rights and sponsorship deals.'' An invitation from SLC at this scenario would appear as a major breakthrough for the PCB, which is desperate to arrange international games for its teams this September.

''We would welcome any kind of matches if they are against a leading team,'' Syed Ali Raza, chairman of the PCB's international committee, said. ''We are weighing all our options,'' he added while admitting the fact that time was running out from the hands of the PCB.

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