PCB ready to shift India series but only in worst-case scenario

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Lahore, Nov 14 (UNI) The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said it was willing to relocate its home series against India at offshore venues in a 'worst-case scenario'.

The PCB chief operating officer Saleem Altaf, said the series could be shifted to neutral venues like Abu Dhabi if India decided against sending their team to Pakistan for the series because of security concerns.

''In a worst-case scenario, if India has its reservations (to tour Pakistan), we can consider playing at a neutral venue,'' Altaf said.

''Of course our first priority will be that foreign teams start playing top level cricket in Pakistan,'' the former Test pacer added.

''However, we don't rule out playing at the neutral venue because we want to generate funds and don't want to become an isolated cricketing nation,'' Altaf was quoted as saying by The News today.

India is scheduled to play three Tests, five One-day Internationals and a Twenty20 International during the tour which begins from January 4.

But their scheduled visit came under a cloud earlier this week when the Indian government did not allow its junior hockey team's tour of Pakistan, citing security apprehensions.

Meanwhile, cricket organisers in Abu Dhabi have offered to host the Pakistan-India series 'free of cost'.

Abu Dhabi Cricket Club (ADCC) president Dilawar Mani said the Emirates would be more than willing to host the India-Pakistan series if they were asked.

''Of course, Pakistan and India is a no brainer,'' Mani had said yesterday.

''We would always do it if we are asked because we support cricket and Pakistan and India holds a special place here in many ways.

''People here are passionate about cricket and they would love to see Pakistan playing India,'' he said.

However, Altaf said hosting India at home would still be the priority for the PCB.

''The ICC has kept the Indian tour to Pakistan as a benchmark for deciding on the relocation of the Champions Trophy because of the security situation in the country,'' Altaf said.

He further added that the security arrangements for India's tour were already underway in Pakistan.

''The printing of match tickets is also set to start. Today, the PCB also received an email from the ICC President David Morgan asking to make arrangements for his visa as he is willing to watch the first Test.

''Our first priority remains to convince India and other foreign teams to fulfil their obligation of touring Pakistan and supporting Pakistan cricket. The Pakistan board as a policy wants teams to tour Pakistan but at same time needs to generate funds and can't afford to become an isolated cricket nation,'' stated.

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