KARACHI     -    Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed Friday remained hopeful that the Sri Lankan team would visit Pakistan for two limited-overs series despite the islanders throwing the tour in doubt citing possible terrorism threats.

The national team and Sindh skipper, while addressing a press conference in Karachi ahead of the opening round of a revamped Quaide-a-Azam Trophy, did not appear pessimistic about Sri Lanka’s visit. “There is still hope that they would come. We should always hope for the best. The PCB is trying it’s hard to bring cricket back in Pakistan,” said Sarfaraz as he assured the 1996 World Cup winners that “Pakistan is a safe country and they will be given complete fool-proof security.”

The Karachi native urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) and other cricket board to help out Pakistan, which he said has always supported others in their time of need. “The PCB is doing all it can but the ICC and other boards also need to support Pakistan,” he said. “We have always supported other boards by visiting their countries. Even recently we sent our junior team to Sri Lanka a week or so after [the Easter attacks]. We also went to Zimbabwe so we expect others to help us too.”

Federal minister Fawad Chaudhry had claimed that Sri Lanka’s change of heart re the Pakistan tour was the product of Indian machination. When Sarfaraz was asked to weigh in on the debate, he chose to sidestep. “I do not know whose influence is there or whose there isn’t. This is a political matter. I do not know what the reality is and cannot say anything about it,” he said.

Pakistan were dealt another blow on Thursday when veteran pacer Wahab Riaz had announced that he was taking an indefinite break from Test cricket. By doing so, Riaz almost joined Mohammad Amir, who has also announced his retirement from the longest format.

Sarfaraz did not critique the southpaws’ choices, saying that only they know their bodies. “The players who have announced their retirements must know better whether their bodies are capable of playing Test cricket or not,” he said. “Test cricket is a format in which you have to give your all. It’s not easy to play for five days, be it a batsman, bowler, wicketkeeper or spinner. The real cricket is Test cricket but those who have decided to quit must have their reasons.

When asked which foreign player he would like to bring in for Sindh, considering the new rules that allow such a signing, Sarfaraz did not appear too keen to look abroad. “We will try and fulfill our needs from within in the form of the most deserving local players. We have a lot of talent within Pakistan,” he said.