No place like home

Sports | ASSOCIATED PRESS 15 Nov 2019

Test cricket is set to return to Pakistan after more than 10 years when Sri Lanka play a two-match series at Rawalpindi and Karachi next month.

Sri Lanka were the last team to play a Test match in Pakistan in March 2009, when the team's bus came under attack in Lahore. Eight people were killed during the terror attack, and several touring players were injured.

The Pakistan Cricket Board yesterday said Sri Lanka Cricket had confirmed next month's tour would go ahead following the successful staging of a series of one-day and Twenty20 internationals in Karachi and Lahore in September and October.

Sri Lanka were originally scheduled to play the Test series last month and then return to Pakistan for a limited-overs series in December. However, the tours were swapped so that Sri Lanka officials could assess the security situation in Pakistan before deciding on the Test venues.

Rawalpindi is now scheduled to host the first Test from December 11-15, with the second Test to be played in Karachi from December 19-23. The series is part of ICC's World Test Championship.

Zakir Khan, the PCB's director of operations, said that the confirmation of next month's matches reflected confidence in Pakistan's safety situation.

He vowed to "leave no stone unturned in putting up a show" to remember.

Several top Sri Lanka players withdrew from the limited-overs series in Pakistan because of security concerns. Sri Lanka lost the ODI series 2-0 after the first game was washed out, but their second-string team swept Pakistan 3-0 in the Twenty20 series.

The tourists said they were satisfied with the visit and the high-level security provided for the team.

Sri Lanka Cricket chief executive Ashley de Silva said he believed cricket-playing nations should host their home matches in their own countries. "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,'' he said.

Pakistan have hosted their so-called home games at neutral venues in the UAE and in England during the last decade.

They will play two Tests in Australia, starting with next week's match at the Gabba, before returning for the series against Sri Lanka.

Australia opener Joe Burns, meanwhile, was recalled to start in Brisbane. Travis Head and Cameron Bancroft were also included in a 14-man squad for the Gabba Test.

Batsman Will Pucovski, 21, withdrew from consideration because of mental health issues. That comes less than a month after all-rounder Glenn Maxwell and batsman Nic Maddinson made themselves unavailable because of mental health issues.

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