KARACHI: As expected, the much-awaited return of cricket to the country has been confirmed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) as chairman Shaharyar Khan officially announced the hosting of Zimbabwe in Lahore in May.
Zimbabwe will be the first Test-playing nation to travel to Pakistan since 2009, when international cricket was suspended after an armed attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team.
Zimbabwe will play three one-dayers and two T20Is in their two-week long stay, with the African side expected to arrive on May 19.
PCB and Cricket Zimbabwe have signed the MoU, the itinerary has been agreed upon and the visitors have informed the International Cricket Council of its intent to visit Pakistan between May 19 and June 1.
“I am grateful to my counterpart in Cricket Zimbabwe, Wilson Manase, for acceding to our request of sending a full side on a tour to Pakistan,” said Shaharyar. “This is an auspicious moment for Pakistan cricket and I am positive that it would open the doors of international cricket in Pakistan once again. Kenya have already been here for five matches against Pakistan ‘A’ and I am indeed confident that Zimbabwe’s incident-free tour shall be the harbinger of more and more associate and full-member nations visiting us in the months and years to come.”
Cricket Zimbabwe’s security team shall come over to Lahore — the venue of all the five games being the Gaddafi Stadium — on May 4 with a mandate to review just the security arrangements put in place by the PCB with the full backing and support of the Punjab government and various provincial and federal law enforcement agencies.
“We tried to convince Zimbabwe to split the matches between Lahore and Karachi but the visiting team’s members expressed concern on extensive travelling, and their request had to be accommodated,” said the PCB spokesman.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Cricket President Wilson Manase stated that they took all the factors into account before reaching the decision to travel to Pakistan.
“I can confirm that Zimbabwe will visit Pakistan in May. We had a duty to ensure the parents of the players, the players and government are on board before announcing the tour,” said Manase. “We’ve taken cognisance of all the factors for us to arrive at this decision, so let’s not be alarmist about the situation in Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, Cricket Zimbabwe CEO Alistair Campbell claimed that the hosts will turn tourists when Pakistan travel to Zimbabwe for a series in August. “We are touring Pakistan as a measure of establishing bilateral relations between us and them; they [Pakistan] will also come to Zimbabwe in August,” he revealed.