THE Bangladesh cricket team’s tour of Pakistan has finally been confirmed. This is a fabulous piece of news for Pakistan cricket — that celebrated the revival of Test cricket with a short series against Sri Lanka last month — and for the millions of home fans who had yearned for top-level international cricket to return to the country. The fate of the Bangladesh series hung in the balance for some time as the BCB had expressed its reservations about their team touring Pakistan for a longer period and had insisted upon playing three T20s instead of the two-Test series that was originally proposed by its Pakistani counterpart. However, all is well that ends well, and Bangladesh has now agreed to tour Pakistan in three phases. They will be playing three T20 games this month, a Test match in early February and another Test and an ODI in April after the Pakistan Super League is over. The agreement to this effect was reached during a crucial meeting held in Dubai on Tuesday between PCB chairman Ehsan Mani and BCB president Nazmul Hasan. It is significant to note that the meeting was facilitated by the ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, which is a clear indication that the world cricket governing body is now convinced about the improved cricket-playing environment in Pakistan and has unequivocally put its weight behind the PCB to host foreign teams.
Besides, the incident-free Test series against Sri Lanka at home last month has buoyed the PCB’s hopes and bolstered its confidence to negotiate home tours with fellow cricket boards from a position of strength. The good offices used in persuading the BCB to agree to the series and the PCB’s unrelenting stance of ruling out the neutral venue option for the matches have also worked in this country’s favour. Pakistan, in all likelihood, will have the upper hand in the two Tests against Bangladesh which may also substantially improve their position in the ongoing ICC Test Championship. So it is, indeed, a win-win situation for the hosts.
Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2020