PCB confident of hosting India

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Lahore, Nov 16 (UNI) The current security scenario in the country has raised doubts on the home series against arch-rivals India early next year, but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is confident the tour will go ahead as planned.

PCB chief operating officer Saleem Altaf said Board officials are discussing the details of the series that will include three Tests, five One-day Internationals and a Twenty20 International with their counterparts in the BCCI.

''We remain very positive that the series will be held successfully in Pakistan,'' Altaf told 'The News'.

''The PCB is in touch with the BCCI and things are progressing according to schedule,'' he added.

Abu Dhabi, which is currently hosting a three-match ODI series between Pakistan and the West Indies, has offered to stage the India-Pakistan series if the BCCI decides against touring Pakistan.

But Altaf rejected the impression that the PCB is thinking of shifting the series to a neutral venue.

''It's all speculation,'' said the former Pakistan pacer. ''They (India) have not raised any concerns about touring Pakistan and if people are talking about the visit getting cancelled, then they are merely speculating.'' While Altaf remains confident that Pakistan will host India at home rather than at some offshore venue, there are indications that the PCB could face problems because of the security situation in the country which has scared away teams like Australia and forced the ICC to postpone the Champions Trophy which was to be played in Karachi and Lahore in September.

However, Altaf was confident that the Indian tour is unlikely to suffer a similar fate.

''The series against India is a high profile one, with both the boards guided by what their governments tell them, and normally there is a security assessment tour which will take place before the series,'' he stated.

However the option of playing at neutral venues will only be taken as a last resort.

''The previous Board officials adopted a rigid stance over this issue. Our chairman (Ijaz Butt) has a more flexible approach,'' he asserted.

''In a worst case scenario, we have the option of hosting our home games in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and England.'' But Altaf added that such a move will not go down well with the PCB.

''Playing a home series on neutral venues is not exactly a good option,'' he said. ''We have done it in the past and didn't generate much revenue. But more important is the fact that our public is starved of quality cricket and there is a desperate need of regular home games.'' UNI XC AB RAR RN1446

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