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ZIMBABWE’S tour to Pakistan, which hung in the balance yesterday, will go ahead as scheduled this weekend, The Herald can reveal.

Reports yesterday said the tour had been cancelled amid fresh security concerns in the Asian country following a terrorist attack on Wednesday in Karachi.

But this newspaper was told last night that Pakistan authorities had provided fresh and concrete guarantees that the Zimbabwe cricket team will be safe in their country and the tour was back on the radar as originally scheduled.

“There were a lot of high-level discussions today and they will be going on, right into the night and even tomorrow (today), but we can tell you that the word from Pakistan is that all mountains will be moved to ensure that the Zimbabwe team is safe,” said the sources.

“Given the nature of the discussions that have been going on, and the assurances that have been received, the team is going to Pakistan and any statements that might have come earlier, suggesting that the tour is off were premature.

“Of course, there was concern after the events in Karachi on Wednesday but a lot has changed in the past few hours and the key issue here is that the team will travel to Pakistan and there is no reason to suggest that its security will be compromised.

“Obviously, these issues are being handled at government level but there will be a clearance given tomorrow (today) for the team to go ahead with the tour as scheduled.

“The high level security operation that has been put in place in Lahore by Pakistan cannot be doubted and that’s why the team is going.”

Pakistan authorities will spend about $1 million on the security operation to ensure that the Zimbabwe team is safe for the duration of their stay in that country.

Earlier yesterday, ZC issued a press release saying the tour had been “suspended” on the aice of the Sports Commission.

“Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has suspended the tour to Pakistan,” read the statement.

“The decision not to tour at this time has been taken after considering the aice from the country’s supreme sports regulatory authority, the Sport and Recreation Commission (SRC), which wrote to ZC saying that it had been aised against the tour by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

Sports Commission director-general, Charles Nhemachena, had indicated earlier that it wasn’t safe for Zimbabwe to go ahead with the tour.

“We have consulted on the security situation in Pakistan with particular reference to your intended cricket tour of the country and have been aised that it would not be safe for the team to travel to Pakistan at this point in time,” wrote Nhemachena to ZC chief executive Wilfred Mukondiwa.

But less than an hour after issuing that statement, ZC media and communications manager Lovemore Banda sent out an e-mail retracting the statement:

“My apology Please do NOT run with the attached. Discussions are still ongoing and the final position will be announced as and when.”

Zimbabwe coach Dav Whatmore was once the Pakistan coach and has supported the tour while Grant Flower, a former star and batting coach for the Chevrons, works in that country as part of the coaching staff of the Pakistan cricket team.

Source : The Herald

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