Test cricket will return to Pakistan after more than a decade with Sri Lanka on Thursday agreeing to a two-match series in December, which will be a part of the traditional format’s ongoing World Championship.
Sri Lanka played a bilateral ODI and T20 International series in Pakistan in September-October earlier this year despite 10 of its top players, including ODI captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Twenty20 skipper Lasith Malinga, opting out due to security concerns.
The upcoming series’ first Test will be played in Rawalpindi from December 11-15, while the second Test will be held in Karachi from December 19-23.
“This is a fabulous news for Pakistan cricket and its reputation of being as safe and secure as any other country in the world. We are thankful to Sri Lanka Cricket for agreeing to send their team for the longer version of the game,” PCB Director (International Cricket) Zakir Khan said in a statement.
Khan said the confirmation will contribute in the PCB’s efforts towards ensuring a regular resumption of international cricket in the country. Incidentally, Sri Lanka was also the last team to play Test cricket in Pakistan, back in 2009.
The island nation’s team was attacked by terrorists in Lahore during that tour, leading to a freeze in international cricket in Pakistan.
Sri Lanka were originally scheduled to play Tests in October and then return in December for a limited-overs’ series but the matches were swapped to “provide them the opportunity to assess the situation before deciding on the Test venues”.
“Now that the itinerary has been confirmed, we will shift our focus on series preparations to ensure we deliver arrangements as per our very high standards,” Khan said.
Sri Lanka Cricket chief executive Ashley de Silva said based on an earlier visit, the SLC is comfortable and convinced that conditions are suitable and conducive for Test cricket.
“We also believe all cricket playing countries should host international cricket at home and in this relation we are happy to play our part in complete resumption of international cricket in Pakistan,” he said.
December 11-15 -- 1st Test, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
December 19-23 -- 2nd Test, National Stadium, Karachi
PCB invites South Africa, Ireland for limited overs series
Meanwhile in a desperate move to bring top cricket teams to the country, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has approached South Africa for a limited overs series, next year.
The PCB has also got in touch with Ireland for a series.
The PCB is also trying to convince Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to visit Pakistan in December and January to play the ICC World Test Championship matches.
“The Board is confident that it will be hosting at least four foreign teams in a span of five to six months next year after it invited South Africa and Ireland to tour Pakistan for limited over series,” a PCB source said.
Sri Lanka’s top players had opted out of the September-October series, which spanned 13-days.
Pakistan is keen to have the Ireland and South African teams for Twenty20 matches.
“South Africa is a top team while Ireland also carry substantial influence in the ICC so the PCB believes if these two teams come to Pakistan early next year it will pave the way open for even Australia, England and New Zealand to send their teams soon,” he said.