Champions trophy: ICC to decide hosts on Sunday; Pak confident

New Delhi, July 18

Pakistan face an agonising wait till Sunday to know if they will host the International Cricket Council’s Champions Trophy in September amid security concerns in that country.

The ICC said representatives of all eight participating teams in the year’s biggest one-day tournament will receive a security briefing at the governing body’s headquarters in Dubai over the weekend.

“The timing of the briefing was agreed upon during the ICC’s annual conference in early July to allow the ICC’s security consultants to provide a comprehensive report,” it said in a statement. “Prior to the meeting, the ICC will not indulge in speculation and, at this stage, the tournament will proceed in Pakistan, as scheduled.”

Officials from the ICC’s broadcast partners, ESPN-STAR Sports, and the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) have also been invited to attend, the ICC said.

The meeting comes amid renewed fears about security in Pakistan following a suicide blast in the capital Islamabad earlier this month that killed 19 people and a series of small bombings in the port city of Karachi a day later. Players from Australia, New Zealand and England have expressed concerns over playing in Pakistan. India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and the hosts are the other teams in the fray.

The tournament is due to be held in Karachi, Rawalpindi — which adjoins Islamabad — and Lahore from September 11-28. The ICC has said it could pull the tournament out of Pakistan if there were any threat of violence. Pakistan, who hosted the six-nation Asia Cup without incident from June 24-July 6, are confident the Champions Trophy too would go off peacefully. “We have assured fool-proof security measures for the Champions Trophy,” Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi said.

“There is no reason for us to believe that the event will be relocated from Pakistan. Everything that needs to be done has been done to ensure that the Champions Trophy is held smoothly and safely. We’ve informed the ICC, the security experts and the competing nations about it and now hope that all the stakeholders will consider it objectively.”

Sri Lanka, the designated alternative venue for the tournament, are also facing renewed violence between Tamil Tiger rebels and government troops. Media reports have mentioned South Africa and England as possible hosts.