International cricket is set to return to Pakistan after Bangladesh confirmed that they will tour the country for a One-Day International (ODI) and one Twenty20 match at the end of this month.
The ODI is slated for April 29 with the Twenty20 taking place the next day — both matches will be played at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.
The development ends days of speculation whether the tour will go ahead but the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) President Mustafa Kamal put to rest all such doubts.
“I’m pleased to confirm this visit today,” said Kamal in the BCB statement issued yesterday. “I know how important it is for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to revive cricket in their country.
“This short visit will demonstrate to the world that cricket should resume in Pakistan.”
Bangladesh will be the first Test-playing nation to tour Pakistan since a gun attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in March 2009 ended their ongoing tour. Since then, Pakistan has played its home series on neutral venues and was also stripped of the rights to co-host last year’s World Cup. Afghanistan, International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Associate Member, was the only side to play in Pakistan during the period.
The announcement has pleased Pakistan fans after doubts surrounded the proposed series ever since a delegation from Bangladesh visited the country. While it gave a thumbs-up to security arrangements, it added that clearance from the government was still needed to confirm the tour. However, PCB Chairman Zaka Ashraf’s meeting with Kamal in Dubai, where the officials were present for the ICC meeting, has proven to be positive.
Meanwhile, the PCB said the remaining matches of the tour, which was a full-fledged series under the ICC Future Tour Programme, will be played on dates mutually agreed between the two boards at venues including Bangladesh.
Ashraf pleased with confirmation
Ashraf, who said that the revival of international cricket was his prime task since taking charge last October, was a pleased man. “I’m glad that the BCB has confirmed the tour,” said the chairman. “It holds immense importance for us and we’ll leave no stone unturned to ensure that it takes place in a befitting manner.”
ICC seeks comprehensive security plan
The ICC, following confirmation from both sides, has sought a ‘comprehensive security plan’ from the PCB on the basis of which it will appoint officials for the series.
“The ICC’s Anti Corruption and Security Unit will commission a localised risk assessment,” said the sport’s governing body. “It will determine whether its officials and staff are appropriately protected by the proposed security plan, before any further decision is taken in relation to their appointment.”
Meanwhile, it has been learnt that Bangladesh agreed to tour after being assured all-out support by the PCB in regards to the ICC presidency.
“Many other issues were also discussed before the confirmation was made,” an official close to the two boards told The Express Tribune. “The PCB has assured all-out support for the BCB and promised to consider playing the remaining part of their tour in Bangladesh in return for their trip.”
“I’m extremely glad that the BCB has confirmed the tour. It holds immense importance for us and we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that this tour takes place in a befitting manner.”
“The tour confirmation is a huge breakthrough in our bid to revive international cricket. We’re confident of hosting the matches in a befitting manner since we are ready to host international teams.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2012.