Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 29 January 2020

'A moment to rejoice': Pakistan host Test cricket for the first time in a decade - in pictures

Sri Lanka Test underway in Rawalpindi amid heavy security

Captain Azhar Ali called it a moment to rejoice - the return of Test cricket to Pakistan.

The action got underway in Rawalpindi as Pakistan host Sri Lanka, their first Test on home soil since the 2009 militant attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore which left six security personnel and two civilians dead and six players injured.

Other teams refused to travel to Pakistan due to security concerns and the side were forced to play "home" Tests at venues in the UAE.

"It's a moment to rejoice, not only for the players but the whole Pakistan nation," said Azhar. "Test cricket's return to Pakistan after 10 years is an opportunity for us to get back on the winning track.

"We had a tough series in Australia and the way we lost there was disappointing. Moving forward, we see this home series as an opportunity and advantage to turn things around.

"We will try our best to fix our mistakes and improve wherever we had been lacking. We have outstanding talent in our squad. They have potential and, if we implement it, results will be good."

While Pakistan's relocation to the UAE proved fruitful - with the Test team reaching the top of the world rankings for the first time - the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have made strides in recent years to take international cricket back to their country.

The return of Sri Lanka is the biggest statement so far, and captain Azhar is grateful to their rivals for agreeing to play a two-match Test series.

"It's a historic occasion and all the players are excited to be part of this," Azhar, who has played 75 Tests - but, until now, none at home.

"We thank the Sri Lankan team for coming here. The last Test was also against them so their visit will send a strong message to the world that we need to support each other."

Sri Lanka will play two Tests under heavy security, one in Rawalpindi and the second in Karachi, ending a decade-long absence for cricket's five-day format. The matches will also be the first home Tests for all 16 players in the Pakistan squad.

Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne won the toss and decided to bat on Wednesday as play got underway, and they made a solid start, reaching 75 without losing a wicket.

Updated: December 11, 2019 10:48 AM

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