x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Pakistan set to play Tests in captial

Two five-day games planned to follow three one-day games at Sheik Zayed Stadium.

Ijaz Butt will seriously consider the West Indies offer with Pakistan yet to play a Test match this year.
Ijaz Butt will seriously consider the West Indies offer with Pakistan yet to play a Test match this year.

More than US$1million (Dh3.6million) has been spent on staging next month's high- profile one-day series between Pakistan and the West Indies in Abu Dhabi, the highest amount ever spent on a cricket event in the UAE. The Abu Dhabi Cricket Council (ADCC) have revealed that at least $1 million alone will be spent on bringing the two teams over to the UAE capital, accommodation costs and prize money for the three match one-day series. Thousands of more dirhams have also been spent on improving the infrastructure in and around the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, where the matches will take place. New roads have been constructed leading up to the ground, a new boundary wall has been built around it while the players area has undergone a major renovation. With news emerging from Pakistan that the country have formally received an invitation to play two Test matches against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi, following the conclusion of next month's one-day series, the ADCC, also said that they would be more than delighted to host to these extra games. Dilawar Mani, the president of the ADCC warned, however, that his organisation would be unable to get involved in any commercial negotiations to stage the two Test matches. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have hinted they would only go ahead if there was interest from sponsors and the media. Mani said: "For the past six months we have been doing all the commercial negotiations for the one-day series and it is a lot of hard work. We simply don't have the time to get involved in this side of things for any Test series, that will be up to the PCB and I have made it clear to them. "We are more than happy to host a Test series and obviously are hosting the one-day series. We are spending a lot of money on the latter, the highest amount in the history of our organisation on staging a sporting event, but it is putting Abu Dhabi on the map and it is money well spent. It will also help raise the profile of cricket within the UAE." The PCB are to now begin a frantic round of meetings with sponsors and media companies in an attempt to raise commercial revenue for the two Test matches. Ijaz Butt, the newly appointed chairman of the PCB said: "We hope the proposal materialises and we find some sponsor for the Test matches. We have to pay the West Indies Cricket Board [for the Tests] according to ICC [International Cricket Council] regulations. Time is short, but I am hopeful something positive will come out." The three one-day matches will take place on Nov 12,14 and 16. Tickets are to go on sale at the end of next week and various locations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The Sheikh Zayed Stadium has a capacity of 17,000 and, given the large expatriate Pakistani community, is likely to be sold out. Mani said: "We can't put a precise figure on what the size of the crowd will be but given the huge Pakistani community we have in the UAE, it should be good. This is a major investment on our part but it is a chance for fans of all backgrounds to see some top-class international competition." vchaudhary@thenational.ae