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Sunday, 8 February 2009





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Pakistan announces Australia one-day series programme

CRICKET: LAHORE, Pakistan, Feb 7, 2009: Pakistan will play Australia in five one-day matches on neutral ground in the Middle East later this year, a top official said Friday.

"We have decided to play the five-match one-day series against Australia in Dubai and Abu Dhabi from April 24 to May 7," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt told reporters.

Australia postponed their full Test and one-day tour of the country in March last year.

Lingering security and safety fears prompted Australia to refuse once again to tour Pakistan, forcing the PCB to arrange the rescheduled series at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates.

Butt said the first two matches will be played in Dubai, while the remaining three will be played in Abu Dhabi.

"The teams will then return to Dubai for the Twenty20 international," he said.

Pakistan was forced to play their three-match one-day series against the West Indies at Abu Dhabi in November last year.

Butt said there was also a possibility of hosting the Test series against Australia at neutral venues.

"If Australia do not play the Tests in Pakistan there is a possibility of playing the Test series in England," said Butt.

Australia's refusal to play in Pakistan stemmed from their army's involvement in the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

"Cricket Australia was willing to play in Pakistan but their government has refused them clearance in fear that their players may become a target because their army is among the allied forces in Afghanistan," Butt said.

Pakistan has been a danger zone for foreign teams since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States sparked a global "war on terror" in which the country is considered a frontline battlefield.

Pakistan had to play its home series against Australia and the West Indies at neutral venues of Sharjah in the UAE and in Sri Lanka in 2002.

The International Cricket Council also decided to transfer the elite eight-nation Champions Trophy, due to be staged in September-October this year, out of Pakistan after teams refused to tour over security fears.




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