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Page last updated at 15:23 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 16:23 UK

Security tight for Pakistan's tour

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Colombo

Sri Lankan security personnel stand guard as Pakistan"s cricketer Abdul Razzaq (R) arrives for a practice match in Colombo on June 29, 2009.
Extra forces have been deployed to ensure security

Pakistan's national cricket team is currently involved in a warm-up match with some very familiar opposition - Sri Lanka.

Just a week after Pakistan beat their South Asian friends and rivals, the Sri Lankans, in the Twenty20 World Cup final at Lord's cricket ground in the UK, they have embarked on a tour of the island which will take in three test matches and five one-day internationals culminating in a Twenty20 finale.

Because of the militant attack on Sri Lanka as they toured Pakistan last March, security is a big issue.

Even as the teams warm up at the Colts Stadium, forces are being deployed to tighten security in the southern coastal town of Galle, where Sri Lanka and Pakistan begin their first test match on Saturday.

We don't want any touring team to go through a similar incident
Brendon Kuruppu, Sri Lanka's team manager

The police spokesman, Ranjit Gunasekera, said those on duty include men from the army, navy, air force and police. But he said that Sri Lanka's security situation was, in general, good now.

"There won't be any problem," he said.

This will be the first test match between these two nations since the Lahore tragedy when militants attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team's bus, killing several six policemen and one driver.

Spectators secure

"We don't want any touring team to go through a similar incident," Sri Lanka's team manager Brendon Kuruppu told the BBC.

"We'll do whatever is necessary to assure their safe passage," he said.

Pakistan"s Younis Khan lifts the world cup trophy after Pakistan beat Sri Lanka during the Final of the ICC World Twenty20 at Lords, London
Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 championships

The secretary to Sri Lanka Cricket, Nishanta Rantunga, said that maximum security cover was being extended not only to the teams but also to the spectators.

After Lahore, he explained, the board felt it had to take more care and recruited a security consultant, Maj-Gen (Rtd) Lawrence Fernando.

He helped assess conditions for Sri Lanka's recent UK tour, then returned to the country to work on Pakistan's visit and also on the triangular Sri Lanka/India/New Zealand ODI tournament scheduled for September.

Sri Lankans put on a brave face on losing the Twenty20 final to Pakistan last week.

"Losing to a friend is no pain," commented one newspaper here.

It described Pakistan's win as a prayer answered for a country struggling to repair her badly damaged image, and dubbed Pakistan as "one of the few countries that helped Sri Lanka win her war on terror".

Apart from the Galle test and three one-day matches in the central town of Dambulla, all the other matches will be played here in Colombo.

Pakistani players said at a press conference on Monday that they were glad to be here.

Despite a few weather-related disturbances, the three-day warm-up was going well, said the cricket board's Mr Ranatunga.

"We're looking forward to some good cricket," Mr Ranatunga said.



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