The tri-nation series today collapsed with the
South African team pulling out of the tournament citing security concerns,
leaving India and Sri Lanka to feature in a three-match bilateral series.
After three days of hectic parleys and constant security reviews following Monday's powerful bomb blast near the team hotels, the South Africans finally took the decision to abandon the tour dealing a big blow to the organisers who had drawn up a revised schedule.
The Indians, who have no problems with the security scenario, will stay back to play a three-match series against the hosts beginning on Friday. All the three matches will be day affairs at the Sinhalese Sports Club with the other two matches scheduled for August 20 and 22.
The Sri Lanka Cricket Board media coordinator Samantha Algame announced South Africa's withdrawal at a press conference here, ending the suspense over their participation in the tournament.
The CEO of Cricket South Africa, Gerald Majola told a press conference in Johannesburg that the team called off the tour following reports by their security analysts.
He said it was a "sad decision" but they had to take action to safeguard the players. The team would return home immediately.
Majola said "In the light of this independent report by the Olive Group, who were appointed at the behest of the ICC, we have no alternative but to bring the team home as soon as possible. The independent report comes to the same conclusion as that of our own security consultant's report."
Justifying the pull out, Majola said the report had
talked about an "unacceptable" level of risk for the players.
"The Olive Group report says, inter alia, that the current risk to the team is at an unacceptable level, and the Sri Lankan Government is unable to guarantee the physical security of the team given the current security situation in Colombo."
The report said there was no evidence of any targetted threat to the South African team, and it assessed that the Tamil Tigers would not directly target them.
"However, the report says there is a real situational threat to the team," Majola said.
He said the decision to withdraw the team was taken with reluctance and regret but for them players' safety was foremost. "However, the safety of our team is paramount and we have no option but to withdraw the team from the tournament."
Majola also said CSA would discuss with SLC about rescheduling of the tri-series.
"We have a wonderful relationship with Sri Lankan cricket and will now be talking to them about rescheduling the tournament.
"We have been in touch with both the ICC and Sri Lankan Cricket and informed them of our decision and the reasons behind it," Majola said.
The series had run into rough weather from the very
beginning as the bomb blast in a busy shopping arcade came hours before the
scheduled start of the tournament which has not seen a single ball being bowled
yet because of inclement weather.
The South Africans, who were keen to return home after the incident, had agreed to extend the stay in the bomb-hit Colombo pending a fresh security evaluation by an independent agency commissioned by the International Cricket Council.
Security for all the three teams had been beefed up following the blast but most of the senior South African players had expressed a desire to return home.