Pakistan-Australia ODIs moved on ‘political’ grounds: minister
Three one-day internationals and a Twenty20 match between Pakistan and the visiting Australians later this month are being moved from Rawalpindi to Lahore because of domestic politics, the interior minister said Friday.
The Australians are currently on their first tour of the country in nearly a quarter of a century, having previously declined to visit because of security fears.
There have been no serious threats directed at the team since their arrival last month, but several political rallies — both for and against the government — are planned in the nearby capital in the coming days and weeks.
Hundreds of thousands of people can descend on the capital during political rallies, choking traffic and causing security problems for officials.
Islamabad, where both teams were due to stay, is just a short drive away from the vastly bigger garrison city of Rawalpindi.
“The matches are being shifted to Lahore because of political activities in the capital,” Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said at a news conference.
An official with the Australian team said they had no issues with the change.
“In many ways it suits both teams as it means one less movement for players and officials,” he said.
Pakistan has struggled to attract touring sides since a fatal terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009.
Having been forced to play their home games abroad — mostly in the United Arab Emirates — Pakistan appeared to have reassured international cricket authorities last year with both New Zealand and England scheduled to tour.
But the Black Caps hastily departed in September just minutes before their first match was due to start, citing security fears, and England postponed tours by both their men’s and women’s teams soon after.
The Australian team currently visiting has been warmly welcomed by Pakistani cricket fans, with the third match of the three-Test series due to start in Lahore on Monday.
The first two matches were drawn.
The teams will also play three one-day internationals and one Twenty20 match before the Australians depart on April 6.