It is now official. Sri Lanka will travel to Pakistan for three Twenty20 Internationals and three ODIs which begin on September 27. The tour, which was in a limbo after the Sri Lankan defence ministry decided to investigate reports of a possible terror attack against the team, has given the green signal for the tour to go ahead. Sri Lanka Cricket Secretary Mohan de Silva said they received the all-clear from the defence ministry to leave for Pakistan on Tuesday. "We have the green light from the defence ministry. The tour is on as we planned. I myself and our office bearers will also be accompanying the team," de Silva said.
The Sri Lanka team was the target of an attack during a Test match in Pakistan's Lahore in March 2009, with six players injured when gunmen attacked their bus. Six Pakistan policemen and two civilians were killed. Since the attack, a majority of international teams have refused to tour the South Asian country. Sri Lanka's first match in Lahore after that was one T20 game against Pakistan in October 2017. De Silva visited Pakistan last month along with a security consultant to check out the arrangements made by the hosts. "They have promised security reserved for a head of state," de Silva said.
Following the announcement of the tour, 10 senior Sri Lankan players, including Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews withdrew from the tour. The other seven who opted out were Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne. The tour was seen as another step towards reviving international cricket in Pakistan after years of isolation. The withdrawal of some key players prompted one Pakistan minister to tweet that India was behind coercing the players to withdraw from the tour. Those speculations were rubbished by the Sri Lanka sports minister Harin Fernando.
Sri Lanka has already announced two squads for the three one-day internationals and the three T20 matches. The three ODIs will be played at the National Stadium in Karachi starting from September 27 while the three Twenty20 Internationals will be played at Lahore and it begins on October 5.