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PCB offers two-Test package
- TOUR BY SOUTH AFRICA - No to neutral venue; Karachi, Peshawar off itinerary

Karachi: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has offered to reschedule matches, reducing the number of Tests from three to two in the hope of persuading South Africa to go ahead with the tour called off after a bomb blast in Karachi.

PCB chief executive Rameez Raja said on Sunday they had sent the rescheduled itinerary to the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA). “We are giving them the option of playing just two Tests now so that they can make the tour even after a week’s delay.”

In the original itinerary, South Africa were to have played Tests at Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi, but the PCB has now cancelled the Karachi match and offered the option of playing the Peshawar Test in Rawalpindi.

The UCBSA announced on Saturday, three days before the tour was due to start, that it was pulling out because of security concerns.

“We are waiting for a response from them but we ourselves are going to have a meeting in Lahore on Monday to decide on our future course of action if South Africa don’t accept the rescheduled itinerary,” Raja said.

He said Pakistan had already sent a letter to the International Cricket Council (ICC) drawing its attention to the financial losses that would be incurred by Pakistan if South Africa did not reverse their decision.

“We have certain contractual obligations with our television producers,” Raja said. No one was hurt in the blast in a Karachi office building on Friday.

Pakistan players wore black armbands in their one-day International against Bangladesh on Sunday to protest against South Africa’s decision.

“It is our way of telling the world that we are unhappy with the way South Africa has let us down,” Pakistan coach Javed Miandad said. He also ruled out any chances of Pakistani players accepting South Africa’s offer to play them at a neutral venue.

“Our stance is simple. The South African players may have genuine concerns about their security in Pakistan but by not touring Pakistan they are promoting and encouraging terrorism in any form,” he said.

On Saturday, the Match Referee for the Pakistan-Bangladesh Test series, former South Africa allrounder Mike Procter, said he was disappointed at the decision.

“The security and arrangements in this series were excellent and I have noticed no change in the situation since I arrived in Karachi last night,” he said.

“I am deeply, deeply disappointed but hope that this is not the end. The next 48 to 90 hours are crucial in deciding the next step.” (Reuters)

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