Pakistan will play their ‘home’ series against Sri Lanka and England in the UAE as security concerns continue to push away touring sides from the country. The announcement comes after Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka were being pondered over as possible venues for the series.
Pakistan last hosted an international series against Sri Lanka in March 2009 that was cut short due to a gun attack on the tourists and have been forced to play their home series on neutral venues.
With international teams refusing to tour the country, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has now once again opted for UAE to act as the hosts for their upcoming series. And while the final tour itinerary for the series against England – likely to be in January next year – is yet to be announced, matches against Sri Lanka are scheduled for October this year.
‘It’s a good choice’
“The PCB has made a good decision,” Emirates Cricket Board Chief Operating Officer Dilawar Mani told The Express Tribune. “I wish Pakistan could play the series in their own country and at the moment, its unfortunate that they can’t do so.
“But we welcome the PCB’s decision. We have the best facilities to host Pakistan.”
Mani said that there was criticism that the pitches in UAE were unsupportive to bowlers and were a paradise for batsmen but added that this would not be the case now.
“The pitches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have hosted ample international cricket and are now mature enough,” said Mani.
“As far as One-Day Internationals (ODI) are concerned, I think pitches have played fairly well so far while in the Test series between Pakistan and South Africa they were a bit over prepared.
“But things are getting better now and with more and more cricket being played in the country, there will be fewer complaints. But we will take the PCB on board before preparing the pitches.”
The UAE have hosted a succession of Pakistan’s series over the past three years with the latest in October last year — a series comprising one Twenty20, three Tests and five ODIs.
Mani said that Pakistan will feel at home in the UAE since the conditions were close to what they have. He said that fans were passionate about cricket and would fully support Pakistan.
“Cricket following here is enough to pull people to the stadiums and that will make the series successful. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are high-quality sides and this is an added incentive for the fans.”
Afghanistan, who played against Pakistan ‘A’ in May, were the first international team to visit the country since March 2009. But an international series still awaits Pakistan, who were also stripped of their right to co-host the World Cup this year.
Governing board meeting today
The PCB Governing Board meeting will be held today, with the approval of the board’s annual budget, Shahid Afridi’s spat and international cricket to be the key issues being raised, at the National Cricket Academy. The meeting, to be presided over by PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt, will be very important in view of the present situation of Pakistan cricket ahead of the upcoming International Cricket Council board meeting in Hong Kong.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2011.