Sri Lanka agree to play T20I in Lahore

Security outside the Gaddafi was stringent as ever AFP

Sri Lanka Cricket on Monday confirmed their decision to send its team to Pakistan for the third T20I in Lahore on October 29. The board deliberated on the issue at its executive committee meeting in Colombo, before coming to the conclusion, which came only two days after Sri Lankan players had expressed strong reluctance to travel to Lahore by signing a letter requesting the match to be moved to a neutral venue.

ESPNcricinfo understands Upul Tharanga, Sri Lanka's limited-overs captain, has pulled out of the match. A squad of 22 will be announced on Tuesday and the list is expected to be pruned to 15 by October 20. It remains to be seen if the selectors will name a full-strength squad or a second-string side as 40 contracted players had signed the letter.

"SLC have over the past two months conducted a thorough evaluation with the assistance of the Government of Sri Lanka, the Government of Pakistan, the PCB and independent Security experts," an SLC release stated.

"The Executive Committee evaluated the reports obtained together with the recommendation of the International Cricket Council - which successfully conducted the Independence Cup tournament in Lahore fielding a World XI Team - and having been fully satisfied with the stringent security measures in place, the SLC ExCo unanimously decided to play the third T20 in Lahore on October 29."

SLC said its president Thilanga Sumathipala will accompany the team to Lahore. The board officials had also stated earlier that Sri Lanka's players had been promised the same level of security afforded to the World XI team in September, and that the ICC was also willing to send its match officials to Pakistan.

Sri Lanka's batting coach Hashan Tillakaratne said it was the board's duty to help Pakistan, who had aided the country during the 1996 World Cup. Following withdrawals by Australia and West Indies at the time due to security concerns, India and Pakistan had sent a combined team to play in Sri Lanka.

"SLC has already announced that we will tour Lahore. In 1996, Pakistan helped us by forming the combined India-Pakistan side, and now it is our duty to help them," Tillakaratne said.

The PCB, which successfully hosted three T20Is against a World XI squad last month in Lahore, has been confident of hosting the game despite initial fears. Thisara Perera, currently part of the ODI squad in the UAE, was Sri Lanka's only representative in those matches.

The T20I on October 29 will mark the return of high-profile bilateral cricket back to Pakistan as only Zimbabwe and World XI have played international matches in the country since the Sri Lanka team bus was attacked in Lahore in March 2009.