ibnlive » Sports

Aug 16, 2006 at 08:17pm IST

South Africa pull out of tri-series

New Delhi: South Africa have pulled out of the Unitech Cup tri-series in Colombo on Wednesday, citing security reasons.

Cricket South Africa had to wait for the official approval of the International Cricket Council, before they could decide on catching a flight home.

With South Africa backing off from the series which was rescheduled to conclude on September 2, Sri Lanka and India will play a three-match bilateral series instead of a five-match one, as speculated earlier, BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah confirmed.

HOMEWARD HO: It is speculated that senior members of the squad insisted on returning.

The matches of the rescheduled series will be day games and will be played on August 18, 20 and 22.

After the blast at Liberty Plaza on Monday, Cricket South Africa had been reviewing the situation in Colombo and ICC had also decided to intervene in the matter.

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur in the Olive Group Inquiry Report said: "The current risk to the team is at unacceptable level and the Sri Lankan government is unable to guarantee the physical security of the team given the current security situation in Colombo."

However, the report says the team was not specifically targetted by the LTTE but there is a situational threat to the team.

"The decision was taken with reluctance and regret. However the safety of the team is paramount," Arthur said.

"We have no option than withdrawing from the tournament. We have a wonderful relationship with Sri Lanka. We will talk about rescheduling of the tournament (to them). We have informed the ICC, SLC (Sri Lanka Cricket) about our decision and the reasons behind it."

At first, South Africa were prepared to play out the series in the emerald isle, but the increasing security outside their team hotels and strict vigilance during practice sessions also in a way, deterred them from prolonging their stay.

The ICC then decided to grant permission to Cricket South Africa to abandon the series.

The CEO of Cricket South Africa Gerald Majola spoke to ICC President Percy Sonn to confirm South Africa's pull out.

Sources say that the senior members of the team were rattled by the happenings in the city, but the younger players were eager to stay on.

It is said that the youngsters of the side were keen to stay and had been waiting to perform as some of the senior members of the side already missed the series because of injuries.

Eshtshepo, the Media Manager of the South African team said that they were waiting for ICC’s official approval to them to leave the country.