For the first time in a decade, Pakistan will finally be hosting Test matches in the country after Sri Lanka agreed to play a series in Pakistan which is part of the ICC World Test Championships. Sri Lanka agreed to a two-match series in Decemberand this comes after they played a bilateral ODI and T20 International series in the country in September-October earlier this year despite 10 of its top players, including ODI captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Twenty20 skipper Lasith Malinga, opting out due to security concerns. The upcoming series' first Test will be played in Rawalpindi from December 11-15, while the second Test will be held in Karachi from December 19-23.
"This is a fabulous news for Pakistan cricket and its reputation of being as safe and secure as any other country in the world. We are thankful to Sri Lanka Cricket for agreeing to send their team for the longer version of the game. Now that the itinerary has been confirmed, we will shift our focus on series preparations to ensure we deliver arrangements as per our very high standards," PCB Director (International Cricket) Zakir Khan said in a statement. Sri Lanka were originally scheduled to play Tests in October and then return in December for a limited-overs' series but the matches were swapped to "provide them the opportunity to assess the situation before deciding on the Test venues".
Sri Lanka Cricket chief executive Ashley de Silva said based on an earlier visit, the SLC is comfortable and convinced that conditions are suitable and conducive for Test cricket. "We also believe all cricket playing countries should host international cricket at home and in this relation we are happy to play our part in complete resumption of international cricket in Pakistan," he said.
Teams like Australia, England and New Zealand have not toured the country for a very long time. In the wake of the deteriorating security situation, England have not gone to Pakistan since 2005 while Australia's last tour was in 1998. New Zealand had travelled to Pakistan in 2002 for a Test series but a terror attack in Karachi saw their tour being cancelled and their last tour was in 2004. International cricket stopped coming to Pakistan following the terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in March 1, 2009. Many Sri Lankan players were hurt and for six years, Pakistan were forced to play their 'home' games in the UAE.
Zimbabwe became the first team to tour Pakistan in 2015 for three ODIs. This was followed by tours by teams like ICC World XI, West Indies, Sri Lanka and the successful hosting of the Pakistan Super League Twenty20. Sri Lanka last played a Test in Pakistan in 2009 on that ill-fated tour while Bangladesh have not played a Test in Pakistan since 2003, which has been their only tour of the country in their cricketing history.