LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday announced a revamped schedule of the upcoming home series against Sri Lanka, deferring a two-Test series, to be held in the UAE, during the month of December, while choosing Karachi and Lahore for the three ODIs and as many Twenty20 Internationals, respectively to be staged in September-October.
According to the original programme, Pakistan were scheduled to host Sri Lanka for two World Test Championship matches in October before Sri Lanka return for three ODIs and three T20s in late December.
“The decision to swap matches was made following a telephone discussion between PCB chairman Ehsan Mani and SLC president Shammi Silva on Friday,” a PCB press release stated here on Friday.
“The Sri Lanka team will arrive in Karachi on Sept 25 where they will play three ODIs on Sept 27, 29 and Oct 2. Lahore will host three T20 Internationals on Oct 5, 7 and 9 after which the visitors will fly home on Oct 10,” it added.
Karachi to host ODIs, Lahore to stage Twenty20s
Earlier, the PCB had been negotiating with its Sri Lankan counterpart convincing it to play at least one of the two Test matches in Karachi or Lahore to end the drought of Test cricket in Pakistan, as no foreign team visited the country for a Test match ever since that horrifying terror attack on visiting Sri Lankan team at Lahore in March 2009.
SLC recently sent a security delegation to monitor the situation, both in Karachi and Lahore, and reportedly it also submitted a satisfactory report to their government. However on Thursday, the Sri Lankan government in an announcement declined to play Test matches in any of the two cities but agreed to play the shorter-version matches.
“The PCB is pleased with the outcome of its discussions with SLC, which has supported Pakistan in its efforts and endeavours for the complete revival of international cricket,” said Mani.
“The tour for limited-overs matches will also provide Sri Lanka with an even better understanding of the ground situation before discussing schedule of the Tests.”
Commenting on the development, Silva said, “The safety and security of its players is the responsibility of SLC, which it takes very seriously. If there had been any doubts, SLC would not have gone ahead with this arrangement. The SLC security experts had visited the two cities earlier this month and had given a positive report, which made our job of decision-making easy.
“The PCB and SLC have a long history of cricket relationship and friendship, and this decision only strengthens that bonding. The SLC is committed to playing its role in the promotion of cricket and looks forward to visiting Karachi and Lahore for three ODIs and three T20Is.”
In his comments, Mani said, “The upcoming [limited-overs] matches will end the long await of the Pakistan cricket fans and supporters to watch modern-day stars from both sides live in action. This is something that will contribute immensely to our revamped domestic cricket structure.
“The hosting of the ICC World XI, a T20 International against Sri Lanka, three-T20 International series, men’s and women’s series against the West Indies and eight HBL PSL 2019 matches within the past couple of years is a testament to Pakistan’s claim that it is a safe and secure country to play cricket,” he added.
“We are very grateful to SLC president Mr Shammi Silva, his board and players for responding positively to our request to play matches in Pakistan,” Mani further said.
“The PCB looks forward to welcoming the Sri Lanka cricket team and assure them that they will be as well looked after as any other international sides of the past.”
Limited-overs series schedule (revised):
Sept 27: First ODI, Karachi
Sept 29: Second ODI, Karachi
Oct 2: Third ODI, Karachi
Oct 5: First Twenty20, Lahore
Oct 7: Second Twenty20, Lahore
Oct 9: Third Twenty20, Lahore
Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2019