Pakistan’s efforts to bring international cricket back have started bearing fruit as they prepare to host New Zealand for a limited-overs series in September.
It will be the first time the Black Caps will tour the country since November 2003. They will play three ODIs in Rawalpindi and five T20Is in Lahore.
“I am pleased New Zealand Cricket has accepted our offer to play two additional Twenty20 Internationals,” Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan said in a statement on Thursday.
“These will not only provide extra games to both the countries as part of their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup preparations, but will also allow New Zealand players to spend extra days in Pakistan, familiarise with our culture and enjoy our hospitality.
“With leading cricket playing countries resuming their tours to Pakistan in 2019, I remain confident and optimistic that the 2021-22 season starting with the series against New Zealand will prove to be a catalyst in rejuvenating our talented youngsters while attracting new fans to the game that has the most passionate following in the country.”
Cricket in Pakistan has been a sporadic occurrence ever since the 2009 attack on Sri Lankan team in eastern city of Lahore. But the PCB has been making great strides to change that in recent times. Their premier T20 tournament, the PSL, now takes place exclusively at home and has been used as a vehicle to convince foreign players that it is safe to tour the country. Luke Ronchi, the current New Zealand batting coach for example, was a regular at the PSL and even went on to win the tournament with Islamabad United.
New Zealand’s players are also regulars at the Indian Premier League, whose second leg begins on September 19 and as a result will be clashing with this limited-overs series. Kane Williamson leads the Sunrisers Hyderabad team, Trent Boult is a key member of the defending champions Mumbai Indians and rookie sensation Kyle Jamieson is usually a regular at Royal Challengers Bangalore. Given the remainder of this year’s IPL takes place in the UAE, which will also host the T20 World Cup, the New Zealand hierarchy will have a choice to make over where to send their first-choice picks.
Even so, Pakistan will enjoy the fact that another top-tier team has decided to tour them after successful visits from South Africa, West Indies, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. They are also preparing for Australia’s arrival in 2022 and have made a bid to host ICC events in the 2024-2031 cycle.