• Bangladesh in Pakistan 2012

International cricket to return to Pakistan

Umar Farooq
April 15, 2012
Bangladesh's matches will be played at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore © AFP

International cricket is set to return to Pakistan after three years, with Bangladesh formally confirming to the PCB that they will play one ODI and one Twenty20 International there later this month. There has been no cricket between two Full Member nations in Pakistan since the attack on the Sri Lanka team in March 2009.

The ODI is scheduled for April 29 and the T20I for April 30. Both matches will be played at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

The ICC has asked the PCB to provide a comprehensive security plan for consideration, following which its Anti-Corruption and Security Unit will commission a localised risk assessment to determine whether its officials and staff are appropriately protected by the proposed security plan, before any further decision is taken in relation to their appointment.

Last month, the ICC had introduced a "special dispensation" to be made only in "exceptional circumstances" in order to ensure that bilateral series take place even if the ruling body has determined it "unsafe" to appoint its officials for such series. This would allow such series to be manned by "non-neutral match officials", a departure from the ICC's Standard Playing Conditions, pending permission from its executive board.

Sunday's announcement follows lengthy negotiations between the two boards over the terms of the tour, and the strings attached to it. At times it looked as though the tour would be a non-starter but on Sunday it was welcomed by both sides.

"The public of Pakistan have been deprived of cricket and we felt that we needed to support them," BCB president Mustafa Kamal said. "The reception we received when we toured Lahore and Karachi on our security visit was overwhelming."

Zaka Ashraf, the PCB chairman, thanked the BCB and the Bangladesh government for their support for the tour. Bangladesh was due for a full tour of Pakistan in 2012 under the ICC's Future Tours Programme. The PCB also said the remaining matches of the tour will be played at dates mutually agreed between the two Boards at venues including Bangladesh.

There had been several itineraries proposed for the tour, including a three-match ODI series and a series of two ODIs and one Twenty20 international. Karachi and Rawalpindi were the other possible venues but ESPNcricinfo understands they were dropped on security grounds.

The tour will come a little more than three years after masked terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka team bus and a van carrying ICC officials to Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, on what would have been the third day of the second Test of that tour. Six Sri Lankan cricketers were injured in the attack, and six security personnel and two civilians were killed.

Since then, Pakistan have hosted "home series" in UAE and other neutral venues. They played New Zealand in New Zealand (2009-10), England and Australia in England (2010). UAE has been their favoured home base, having hosted South Africa, Sri Lanka and England.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

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