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    PCB wants full-strength Bangladesh

    The Pakistani board fears that many top Bangladesh players may opt out of the tour.

    Lahore: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is keeping its fingers crossed over whether the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) would be able to convince its top players and team officials to tour Pakistan later this month to play a One-day international and a Twenty20 match. Well-placed sources in the board told PTI that though the PCB hierarchy was happy that they had finally managed to convince BCB to send its team to Pakistan despite security issues, it was worried about the possibility of late pull-outs by leading players.

    "The board chairman, Zaka Ashraf, during his meeting with his Bangladesh board counterpart, Mustafa Kamal, made it clear that Pakistan would like to host the strongest Bangladesh team," a source said. Reports from Dhaka about some players and team officials being reluctant to play in Pakistan have got the PCB officials concerned. "Obviously if the Bangladesh team comes without top players like Shakib Al Hasan or Tamim Iqbal, it would weaken the touring side and reduce the competitive edge of the series," a source said.

    Reports have quoted the head of the BCB cricket committee, Inayat Hussain Siraj, that they would not force any player or support staff member to go to Pakistan. "Whoever wants to go to Pakistan is fine but we will not force anyone to go on the tour," he said. The BCB agreed to tour Pakistan after weeks of speculations.

    But while the PCB has already begun preparations for the series, there are many former Test players who are skeptical about whether the tour by Bangladesh would convince other boards to also send their teams to Pakistan.

    Pakistan's former Test captain, Asif Iqbal told that the BCB took a disingenuous stand in this matter. "Make no mistake, the announcement of this tour is a positive development. However, as you know, the BCB and PCB had agreed on a full tour of Pakistan prior to the Asia Cup. The proposed itinerary was drafted at the back end of negotiations which involved PCB's support for Mustafa Kamal's nomination for the highest office in the ICC as well as a visit to Pakistan by a security delegation from the BCB. The delegation was given assurances by the Pakistani government. The final decision was referred to the Bangladeshi government and at that time, there seemed to be no major impediments to this tour."

    He said the PCB should have stuck to its guns and gone for a full tour. "The PCB should have taken a firm stance and told BCB in no uncertain terms that they should abide by their earlier decision. However, I do believe, and I can only go by media reports that a compromise was reached by using the leverage of Pakistan's support for Mustafa Kamal's appointment in ICC. This may have forced the BCB to consider a somewhat curtailed tour of Pakistan. If this is true then the tour schedule has been arranged for all the wrong reasons."