LAHORE: New Zealand will tour Pakistan for the first time in 18 years to play three One-day Internationals and five Twenty20 Internationals, cricket boards of both countries said on Thursday.

Pakistan has made steady strides in restoring its image as a safe venue for international matches, after successfully hosting Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, and South Africa in recent years.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said New Zealand will tour Pakistan for the first time since 2003 starting from Sept 17, with all matches split between Rawalpindi and Lahore.

While Rawalpindi’s Pindi Cricket Stadium will host all three ODIs, the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore will be the venue for the T20 series with New Zealand — the current ICC World Test Championship champions — to visit Pakistan again next year for a red-ball series.

The ODIs will count towards the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 qualification with third position on the ICC T20 Team Rankings will be up for grabs in Lahore.

New Zealand are the first side to visit Pakistan in what will be a bumper 2021-22 season for the local cricket fans. Following the tour by Black Caps, England’s men and women sides will play T20 Internationals fixtures in Karachi before West Indies are expected to arrive in the port city in December for three ODIs and three T20 Internationals.

Australia are then scheduled to undertake a full tour in February/March in what would be their first trip to Pakistan since 1998.

A bomb blast outside the New Zealand team’s hotel in Karachi in 2002 cut short the Black Caps’ last Test tour of Pakistan, but they visited again for an ODI series the following year.

“Series against a top-ranked side like New Zealand will be a perfect start to a mouth-watering and highly-exciting home season of red and white-ball cricket. The 2019 World Cup finalists, who are also the World Test champions and ranked third in T20Is, will draw tremendous attraction and interest from the local fans, and will reinforce Pakistan’s status as a safe and secure country,” Wasim Khan, the PCB’s chief executive, said in a board media release. “I am pleased New Zealand Cricket has accepted our offer to play two additional Twenty20 Internationals. These will not only provide extra matches to both these teams as part of their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup preparations, but will also allow New Zealand players to spend extra days in Pakistan, familiarise with our culture and enjoy our hospitality.

“With leading cricket playing countries resuming their tours to Pakistan in 2019, I remain confident and optimistic that the 2021-22 season starting with the series against New Zealand will prove to be a catalyst in rejuvenating our talented youngsters while attracting new fans to the game that has the most passionate following in the country.”

New Zealand Cricket chef executive David White remarked: “We’re very much looking forward to returning to Pakistan for the start of their home international season. New Zealand were the first country outside India to tour Pakistan and we share a close relationship with the PCB. It’s great that, after such a difficult time for Pakistan, international cricket is again being played in the country.”

Since the 2003 ODI series, Pakistan have thrice hosted New Zealand for ODIs in the United Arab Emirates with the Black Caps winning the 2019-10 and 2014-15 series and drawing the 2018-19 rubber.

However, Pakistan won the 2009-10 and 2018-19 T20I series while the 2014-15 series was shared.

Schedule:

Sept 11: Arrive in Islamabad.

Sept 12-14: Room isolation.

Sept 15-16: Training/practice/intra-squad match

Sept 17: 1st ODI (Rawalpindi).

Sept 19: 2nd ODI (Rawalpindi).

Sept 21: 3rd ODI (Rawalpindi).

Sept 25: 1st T20 International (Lahore).

Sept 26: 2nd T20 International (Lahore).

Sept 29: 3rd T20 International (Lahore).

Oct 1: 4th T20 International (Lahore).

Oct 3: 5th T20 International (Lahore).

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2021

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