Test Cricket set to return to Pakistan after one decade

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By Muhammad Luqman

Pakistan is set to end a decade-long drought of Test cricket,
with the national team playing  a two-Test
home series against Sri Lanka in December 
this year.

“Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium and Karachi’s National Stadium
will host the two games, set to begin on 11 and 19 December respectively,”  according to an announcement by  Pakistan Cricket Board  on Thursday.

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, according to International Cricket  Council.

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 on  March 3,  2009, when Pakistan last hosted a Test match,
that marked the beginning of Pakistan’s international cricket  isolation. 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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