Cricket: Pakistan moves SAfrica match over safety fears
Thursday October 25, 2007
MULTAN (AFP) - The final one-day match between Pakistan and South Africa will be shifted after the Proteas declined to play in troubled Karachi for security reasons, an official said on Wednesday.
South Africa declined to play the fifth match in the southern port city, where suicide bombings killed 139 people last week at former premier Benazir Bhutto's homecoming parade, after seeking a safety assessment for players.
The match will now be played in Lahore at the Gaddafi Stadium on the same date of October 29, Pakistan Cricket Board chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi said.
"The match has been shifted to Lahore over security fears raised by South Africa," he told AFP.
South African team security failed to be convinced by top-level officials in Karachi during a meeting on Wednesday morning about player safety in the southern port city, officials said.
"We are disappointed and feel that Karachi is safe to hold any international event but we had no choice but to accept the decision of the South African management," said Naghmi.
South African manager Logan Naidoo said the team regretted that the decision had to be taken.
"We deeply regret this decision especially for the people of Karachi for having deprived them of this opportunity but unfortunately the members of the South Africa contingent were not comfortable in travelling to Karachi," Naidoo said in a statement.
He added that the decision was reached after consultation with officials back in South Africa.
South Africa held meetings with Pakistan officials in the wake of the attack and had been assured of stepped up security for players - assurances which prompted them not to end the tour last week.
Karachi has been a danger zone for international teams given the city's history of extremist and ethnic violence.
New Zealand had to cut short a tour after a bomb blast outside their hotel killed 14 people, including 11 French naval staff, in May 2002.
South Africa refused to play in the city on their last tour four years ago.
The city was cleared for international cricket only when India played a five-day Test there last year.