M A I N   N E W S

South Africa defer pullout from triseries
K. Kumaraswamy

Colombo, August 15
In a desperate bid to salvage the tri-nation series, Sri Lanka today rescheduled the tournament to give more time for review of the security situation because of which South Africa has threatened to pull out.

India has raised no problems about security and will play the hosts in the opening tie here tomorrow but South Africa decided not to pull out immediately pending a fresh evaluation of security arrangements by the ICC in the wake of Monday's bomb blast.

Under the revised schedule drawn up by the organisers, the final will be held at the Premadasa Stadium on September 2 instead of August 29.

After hectic parleys and constant review of the security scenario, the South African team, which was initially keen to return home, decided to stay put in the troubled capital city till the ICC's security team submits its report.

"We will remain in Colombo till the ICC's security team clears the tour," a South African cricket official said.

The South African team management, it is learnt, have sought a categorical assurance from the Sri Lankan authorities that its players would be provided foolproof security.

The first match of the series between Sri Lanka and South Africa was called off yesterday because of rain. Though it was rescheduled for today, it was again put off following a request by the South African Board in view of the tense security situation.

Meanwhile, the Cricket South Africa said it had received assurances from the South African High Commissioner in Colombo to the effect that "the team and cricket in general do not appear to be targets" of the terrorists who exploded a bomb in the heart of the city yesterday.

The blast took place less than 2 km from South Africa's team hotel and the players expressed their reservation in continuing the tour.

"The safety of the team has been paramount in all our deliberations, and we have been assured that the upgraded security levels for the team will achieve this.

"In the circumstances, the team will remain in Sri Lanka while the upgraded security measures are being evaluated," CSA General Manager of Cricket Affairs Brian Basson said in a statement issued by the team management.

Team media manager Gordon Templeton said a tentative rescheduled itinerary was prepared, according to which South Africa's first match was against India on August 19.

"The itinerary and whether the South Africans decided to play the series depended on the report of the ICC security team,” Templeton told reporters.

Gordon indicated the players were keen to get back home. “Our priority is safety and safety is home,” he said. Gordon said a report of the security team that is already travelling with the team was with the CSA.

Asked if it was not strange that the ICC felt the need for an independent review when in the past it had gone by the present security experts employed by the CSA, Templeton said, “that is the pity.” Templeton was diplomatic while commenting on the players’ response to their board dragging on the matter. “CSA are our employers and we go by what they have to say on this,” he said.

Revised schedule: Aug 16: India vs Sri Lanka; Aug 19: India vs South Africa; Aug 21: Sri Lanka vs South Africa; Aug 24: Sri Lanka vs India; Aug 26: South Africa vs India; Aug 29: Sri Lanka vs South Africa; Sept 2: Final. — PTI





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