x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Pakistan's twin series to bring world's focus back to Sharjah

The 'host' nation will play Sri Lanka and England across UAE.

The Sharjah Cricket Stadium is in disrepair and is currently being spruced up again.
The Sharjah Cricket Stadium is in disrepair and is currently being spruced up again.

Test cricket is to return to the Sharjah Cricket Stadium and matches will also be played in Abu Dhabi and Dubai when Pakistan host series against Sri Lanka and England.

Sharjah staged Tests between Pakistan and the West Indies in February 2002 and between Pakistan and Australia in October that year, but the stadium has been precluded from holding major international matches since 2003 due to match-fixing allegations.

That is until the Pakistan itinerary was revealed yesterday.

"This is a fantastic season for us to host back-to-back series of the Pakistan Cricket Board [PCB]," Dilawar Mani, the chief executive officer of the Emirates Cricket Board, said.

Sri Lanka will play three Tests, five one-day internationals (ODIs) and a Twenty20 from October 18 to November 25, while England feature in three Tests, four ODIs and three T20s from January 17 to February 27.

"The matches are well distributed in the interest of the public," Mani said. "The matches are in all three formats and it provides the cricketing fraternity in the UAE with a wonderful opportunity to catch the action live. I hope they will take advantage of it and turn out in numbers."

The UAE has been used as PCB's adopted home since international teams refused to travel to Pakistan over security concerns after gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team in March 2009.

Pakistan have hosted series against West Indies, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, before and after that incident. The series also put the international cricket focus back on UAE.

"It is true the UAE will also be on the spotlight by hosting these games but I would like to see international cricket return to Pakistan," Mani said.

"You want the game to be played in every country, especially when it comes to the full members, and I think that is in the best interest of the ICC [International Cricket Council] and its member boards.

"But given the situation in Pakistan, which is not in the control of the PCB, we would welcome them. Still we wish that every country could host their series themselves.

"While they are unable to do it, we would obviously make sure that they are most welcome here. This is their second home, but I don't believe one should be trying to take advantage of any of these factors."

Sri Lanka are due to arrive in Abu Dhabi on October 15 and will play the first Test at the Zayed Cricket Stadium from October 18 to 22.

The second Test will take place from October 26 to 30 in Dubai with the third and final match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium from November 3 to 7.

England will land on January 3 and will play a three-day warm up game on January 11.

The first Test will be played in Dubai from January 17 to 21 with the second Test in Abu Dhabi from January 25-29. They return to Dubai for the third Test from February 3-7.

They play a one-day warm up game in Abu Dhabi on February 10 followed by the first two ODIs at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on February 13 and 15.

The next two ODIs will be in Dubai on February 18 and 21. They play two T20s in Dubai on February 23 and 25, and return to Abu Dhabi for the final T20 on February 27.

apassela@thenational.ae

 


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