Cricket: Pakistan may play World T20 games in neutral venue if govt does not clear India trip

Pakistan are open to playing next month's World Twenty20 matches at a neutral venue.
Pakistan are open to playing next month's World Twenty20 matches at a neutral venue.PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE (REUTERS) - Pakistan are open to playing next month's World Twenty20 matches at a neutral venue if the government does not clear their tour of India over security concerns, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan has said.

Pakistan's participation in the March 8-April 3 tournament across the border depends on government clearance as there are specific threats and it has already been communicated to the International Cricket Council (ICC), Khan told reporters in Lahore.

"We have told the ICC the decision is with the government and it's not just us who have to decide," Khan said on Tuesday. "We need to understand that there are specific Pakistan-oriented security threats and we are concerned, hence (we) involved the government."

Majority-Muslim Pakistan and India, who have a Hindu majority, have fought three wars since becoming two separate countries in 1947 after independence from Britain.

Last month, Australia pulled out from the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh because of concerns over the safety and security of their squad after postponing a Test tour of the country in October for similar reasons.

"We didn't say or propose playing the World T20 matches at neutral venue but someone at the ICC meeting said that if there are concerns over any extremist activity (at Pakistan matches) then neutral venues will be looked into," Khan said. "Since it's an ICC event and not a bilateral series we have to play it but if the decision (by the government) is negative then maybe the ICC could say that our matches be held in neutral venues in Sri Lanka or United Arab Emirates, and we will be ready for that."

The ICC and the Indian cricket board (BCCI) could not be immediately reached for comment.

Pakistan have hosted all their international matches in the United Arab Emirates since a bus carrying the Sri Lanka team was attacked by gunmen in Lahore in 2009.

Pakistan umpire Aleem Dar was withdrawn from a series between India and South Africa in October after protesters stormed the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai, demanding his removal.