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Cricket Australia chief assures Pakistan ‘we are coming’ despite corona concerns

The chief executive of Cricket Australia (CA) has cleared the air over uncertainty surrounding his team’s tour of Pakistan scheduled for next year, saying the bilateral series will go ahead as planned despite Covid-19 concerns.

Australia will play three Tests, three one-day internationals (ODIs) and one Twenty-20 international (T20I) match in a month-long series commencing from March 3.

The Test matches will be played in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore from March 3 to 25, while all four white-ball matches will be played in Lahore from March 29 to April 5.

“We are working closely with the Pakistan Cricket Board and all the authorities. It’s a really complex endeavour, we are very committed to touring. It is absolutely our intention to tour as long as it is safe to do so,” CA chief Nick Hockley was quoted as telling reporters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday ny Gulf News.

Australia have not visited Pakistan since 1998 and the two countries have met only in Australia, UAE and England.

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja had earlier this week expressed confidence that Australia, along with England and New Zealand, will tour Pakistan next year as per schedule.

“We have made the world realise about our presence at the International Cricket Council meetings,” Ramiz had said, sitting alongside incoming PCB chief operating officer Faisal Hasnain.

England, who were due to send their men’s and women’s team in October — with the men’s team due to play two Twenty20s, then withdrew their teams due to concerns over their players’ mental health while travelling to Pakistan.

At that point in time, it seemed Australia’s scheduled tour in March next year would also not go ahead.

It all started when New Zealand had abruptly abdounded their tour of Pakistan in September citing a security alert, in a massive blow to Pakistan’s hopes of staging regular international cricket.

The tour was due to get underway with the first of three one-dayers in Rawalpindi on Sep 17, 2021 but the New Zealand team did not travel to the stadium.

The New Zealand cricket team had arrived in Pakistan on September 11 for the first time in 18 years to play three ODIs and five Twenty20 Internationals.

The ODI series against New Zealand was supposed to be played at the Rawalpindi Stadium, with matches scheduled for Sept 17, 19, and 21, while the Gaddafi Stadium was slated to host five T20s from Sept 25 to Oct 3.

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