Pakistan is set to end a decade-long drought of Test cricket, with the national team closing out 2019 with a two-Test home series against Sri Lanka.
A Pakistan Cricket Board release on Thursday, 14 November, announced that the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium and Karachi’s National Stadium will host the two games, set to begin on 11 and 19 December respectively.
The tour is a consequence of the successful white-ball series that the two sides contested in Pakistan in September-October. Sri Lanka visited for three ODIs and as many T20Is, and while Pakistan prevailed in the ODIs 2-0, Sri Lanka famously swept the T20Is with a second-string side against the No.1 team in the world.
That bunch of limited-overs games was originally scheduled to take place in December, while the Tests were slotted in for October. But the two assignments were swapped after Sri Lanka Cricket expressed its desire to use the limited-overs bilaterals as an opportunity to assess the security situation for the Test series. Having been satisfied with arrangements during the white-ball tour, they gave the green light for the Tests.
“This is a fabulous news for Pakistan cricket and its reputation of being as safe and secure as any other country in the world,” Zakir Khan, the PCB director – international cricket, said. “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.
“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. This series is part of our cricket celebrations and we will leave no stone unturned in putting up a show which is a memorable one for the players, officials, fans and media.”
“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."
It was a terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009, when Pakistan last hosted a Test match, that marked the beginning of Pakistan’s international cricket drought. But while other teams have visited those shores since, if only sporadically, for limited-overs assignments, never has a team visited for a Test series since that incident.
“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,” SLC chief executive Ashley de Silva, said.
“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.”
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