Champions Trophy cut to two venues

Rawalpindi, August 13:

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has cut Rawalpindi as one of the venues for next month’s Champions Trophy in Pakistan on security grounds.

Rawalpindi was excluded because there had not been a chance to fully verify its security arrangements, leaving Lahore and Karachi to share all 15 matches. Lahore will host eight matches including the opening match between Pakistan and the West Indies on September 12 and the final, with seven to be held in Karachi.

“Concentration on two venues will provide extra level of comfort for all stakeholders,” ICC chief executive Haroon Logart said. “During the recently completed Asia Cup there were no fixtures at Rawalpindi and that didn’t allow us the opportunity to check the security arrangements, so there has been no way for us to formulate an opinion on the venue.”

Security concerns had been high on the agenda for this Champions Trophy, with players and boards from Australia, England and New Zealand raising doubts as to whether Pakistan should host the tournament. Sri Lanka was put on standby as an alternative venue before Pakistan was affirmed as host.

Logart headed an ICC delegation that met security officials in Islamabad, getting assurances that there will be the requisite security provided.

Two ICC delegations will visit the concerned countries ahead of the September 12-28 tournament to give assurance on security. Logart will lead the delegation to England while ICC general manager David Richardson will travel to Australia and New Zealand. Chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) Tim May and Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson will be in New Zealand and Australia along with Richardson.