Venue for Pakistan-Australia ODIs moved on ‘political’ grounds

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A general of the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium Lahore.

Three one-day internationals and a Twenty20 match between Pakistan and the visiting Australians later this month are being moved from Rawalpindi to Lahore because of domestic politics, the interior minister said on Friday.

The Australians are currently on their first tour of the country in nearly a quarter of a century, having previously declined to visit because of security fears.

There have been no serious threats directed at the team since their arrival last month, but several political rallies — both for and against the government — are planned in the nearby capital in the coming days and weeks.

Hundreds of thousands of people can descend on the capital during political rallies, choking traffic and causing security problems for officials.

Islamabad, where both teams were due to stay, is just a short drive away from the vastly bigger garrison city of Rawalpindi.
“The matches are being shifted to Lahore because of political activities in the capital,” Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said at a news conference.

An official with the Australian team said they had no issues with the change.
“In many ways it suits both teams as it means one less movement for players and officials,” he said.

The Australian team currently visiting has been warmly welcomed by Pakistani cricket fans, with the third match of the three-Test series due to start in Lahore on Monday.The first two matches were drawn.
The teams will also play three one-day internationals and one Twenty20 match before the Australians depart on April 6.

Agence France-Presse

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