Pakistan stripped of World Cup matches

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Move is ‘unjust’, says Pakistan coach

PAKISTAN will not host any matches in the 2011 World Cup after the International Cricket Council deemed the country was unsafe following the recent terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore.

The country was due to hold 14 ties, including one semi-final after it was awarded the tournament with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

But the attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March has forced the ICC to remove Pakistan as hosts. All matches will now be divided amongst the three co-hosts.

Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam described the move as a “big blow” and questioned the decision to penalise the country for a tournament that is still two years away.

But ICC President David Morgan said while the decision was “regrettable” they could not guarantee players safety in light of the attack on the Sri Lankan team in March.

“It is extremely regrettable that the Board has had to take this decision given the passion the people of Pakistan have for the game of cricket and for the ICC Cricket World Cup,” he said.

“However, our number one priority was and is to deliver a safe, secure and successful event and the uncertainty created by events within Pakistan created a huge question mark over our ability to do just that.”

Morgan also defended the ICC’s decision to bear judgment on Pakistan so early saying they could not afford to postpone the World Cup nearer the time if the country did not meet its security requirements.

The decision has come as a bitter blow to Pakistan who are having to shift ‘home’ matches abroad as a result of security uncertainty.

The team are currently in Dubai ahead of a series with Australia who have refused on more than one occasion to travel to Pakistan.

Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam said the decision was “unjust”.

“I am hugely disappointed,” Alam said in Dubai. “Pakistan has been singled out for security, which is unjust and has hit our cricket with a big, big blow that will be hard to overcome for years.”

He also questioned why Pakistan was the only nation to be penalised citing security uncertainties in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

“India had to move their high-profile league because of security fears,” he said, referring to the IPL, which was moved to South Africa as the competition clashed with India’s parliamentary elections. “We couldn’t tour Bangladesh as there were security fears in the wake of military mutiny. The situation in Sri Lanka is not good, either, with Tamil (rebels) fighting a war against the Sri Lankan army. So why does only Pakistan suffer?

“[The ICC made] a hasty decision because the World Cup is still two years away and things are getting better in Pakistan. They should have waited for a few months.”

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