Pakistan in attempt to rescue tour

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Pakistan Cricket Board officials have attempted to persuade their West Indies counterparts to reverse a decision to pull out of next month's scheduled tour, PCB sources said yesterday.

Pakistan have also accepted an invitation to play an indoor one-day series with Australia in June. The two sides will face each other in three limited-overs matches in Australia.

West Indies are the third team to refuse to tour Pakistan due to security concerns after 11 Septemberand the subsequent military strikes in Afghanistan. A PCB source said: "The Pakistan point of view is that conditions in Afghanistan have improved with the reduction in military strikes and establishment of a new government."

The West Indies were scheduled to play Pakistan in three Tests and three one-day internationals in February and March. The West Indies Cricket Board president Wesley Hall has asked the PCB to recommend neutral venues.

A PCB director, Brigadier Munawwar Rana, said: "We feel that presently the circumstances inside the country are calm and quiet for cricket purposes. With respect to alternate venues, PCB has to work out the extra costs involved."