Zimbabwe confirm Pakistan tour next month
* Cricket Zimbabwe to send team to assess security
* Lahore to host all five matches
LAHORE – International cricket will return to Pakistan next month with a short, limited-overs series against Zimbabwe, ending the Asian nation’s agonising six-year wait to host a test team.
Pakistan has been forced to play designated ‘home’ matches primarily in the United Arab Emirates since March 2009 following an attack by militants on a Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore.
The Sri Lankans were ambushed while travelling from their hotel to the Gaddafi stadium for a test match, in an attack that left six Pakistani policemen and a van driver dead while some players and a local umpire sustained injuries.
“I am grateful to my counterpart in Cricket Zimbabwe, Wilson Manase, for acceding to our request of sending a full side on a tour to Pakistan,” PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said in a statement.
Pakistan will reciprocate by touring Zimbabwe in August, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) said on their official Twitter feed.
“We have taken cognisance of all the factors for us to arrive at this decision, so let’s not be alarmist about the situation in Pak,” Manase was quoted as saying on the feed.
Though short and featuring no tests, the success of the tour would encourage other test teams to change their perception about Pakistan and tour the country they consider unsafe, hopes the local board.
“This would be an auspicious moment for Pakistan cricket and I am positive that it would open doors of international cricket in Pakistan,” PCB chief Khan said.
“Kenya have already been here for five matches against Pakistan ‘A’ and I am indeed confident that Zimbabwe’s incident-free tour shall be the harbinger of more and more associate and full member nations visiting us in the months and years to come.”
A ZC security team will reach Lahore on Monday to assess the safety arrangements at the venue which will host all matches.
“We vigorously tried to convince Cricket Zimbabwe to split the matches between Lahore and Karachi but the visiting team’s members expressed concern on extensive travelling, and their request had to be accommodated,” a PCB spokesman said.
Itinerary (all matches in Lahore):
May 22: First T20I
May 24: Second T20I
May 26: First ODI
May 29: Second ODI
May 31: Third ODI. – Reuters