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Zimbabwe cricket team arrives in Pakistan

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A 23-member Zimbabwe cricket squad arrived in Pakistan amid tight security.

Pakistani cricket officials hope a successful tour will help ease Australian concerns about security ahead of the world champions' visit scheduled for March-April.

Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka said on the team's departure from Harare that the players' safety was up to the host country and the team felt comfortable touring Pakistan.

Heavy contingents of police and paramilitary staff were deployed at Karachi's international airport for their arrival.

Foreign teams have raised security fears following last month's assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, at the end of a year which saw more than 800 people killed in dozens of suicide bombings across Pakistan.

The government has blamed Al-Qaeda-linked militants for most of the attacks.

Several Australian players have expressed their reluctance to travel to Pakistan under the circumstances.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Nasim Ashraf said he hoped the Zimbabweans would clear the way for Australia to tour.

Zimbabwe, whose Test status suspension will come under review later this year, will open the tour with a four-day side game in Karachi from January 14. The tourists will also play five one-day internationals on the tour.

The first one-day game will be played here on January 21.

Squad: Prosper Utseya (capt), Gary Brent, Chamu Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Keith Dabengwa, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Chris Mpofu, Tawanda Mupariwa, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu, Brendon Taylor, Sean Williams. Robin Brown (coach)
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