Test Cricket is set to return to Pakistan after a gap of more than 10 years as Pakistan Cricket Board announced the itinerary for the World Test Championship matches against Sri Lanka.
The first Test will be played at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium from 11-15 December, while National Stadium Karachi will host the second Test from 19-23 December.
The last time Pakistan hosted a Test match was in 2009 against Sri Lanka in Lahore. That contest was marred by a deadly terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus when they were on their way to Gaddafi Stadium.
Pakistan were denied of any sort of international cricket after that incident. But slowly and gradually, the PCB won the confidence of international sides as Zimbabwe became the first international side to visit in 2015.
Since then, teams like World XI (which included top international players), West Indies and Sri Lanka started to visit Pakistan.
Sri Lanka were originally scheduled to play two Test matches in October and white-ball games in December but the matches were switched over to help SLC in assessing the situation for the red-ball contests.
The Sri Lankan side to tour Pakistan in October included a lot of new faces as top flight players had opted to withdraw over potential security concerns.
The white-ball matches went smoothly with no hiccups which understandably won the confidence of Sri Lankan board and players.
With World Test Championship points at stake, Sri Lanka are most likely to field their full strength side which is an excellent sign for the future of international cricket in Pakistan.
“This is a fabulous news for Pakistan cricket and its reputation of being as safe and secure as any other country in the world,” said PCB’s Director International cricket, Zakir Khan.
“We are thankful to Sri Lanka Cricket for agreeing to send their team for the longer version of the game, which will contribute significantly in the PCB’s efforts and drive for regular resumption of international cricket, and help in its endeavours of attracting new audiences and younger generation.”
SLC chief executive Ashley de Silva confirmed the tour and added that Sri Lanka were happy to play their part in resumption of international cricket in Pakistan.
“We are pleased to confirm our return visit to Pakistan as, based on our earlier visit, we are comfortable and convinced 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, which not only has a proud history but has been one of our biggest supporters in our early days as a cricket nation.
“We drew our opening World Test Championship series against New Zealand, and I anticipate, like in the past, these two Tests will be exciting and competitive, and the fans will thoroughly enjoy the quality of cricket that will be on display.”