Pakistan keen to host Australia ahead of World Cup 2019
What’s the story?
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is trying their level best to convince Australia to play two matches in Pakistan ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
Australia are scheduled to play a five-match ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE next year March before the World Cup. The Australians have expressed interest to push the series as close to the World Cup as possible.
The PCB chairman Ehsan Mani is in talks to convince Australia to play two of the five matches in Pakistan.
"Once anyone comes to Pakistan and views the situation by himself, it will not be hard to convince him that international cricket can return to Pakistan properly. But it is not easy trying to change the perception of people who have not been to Pakistan in recent times," he said.
Australia has not played in Pakistan since 1998. After 2009, hardly any international team has played in Pakistan owing to security reasons. In recent times, Sri Lanka and West Indies played a T20I series in Pakistan.
Australia's top batsmen, Steve Smith and David Warner will also complete their 12-month bans at the end of March and should be playing against Pakistan before the World Cup.
PCB Chairman said that to persuade top teams to play in Pakistan it was a matter of changing perceptions about the situation in Pakistan. He felt the security situation in the country has improved and teams should consider coming and playing in Pakistan again.
He admitted that Pakistan needed top teams to start visiting again to see the permanent international cricket to the country which has been on a hold since March 2009 when militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore.
Since then no touring side has played a full series including Tests in Pakistan and between September 2017 to April 2018, PCB was able to convince teams to come and play short T20I series including an ICC World XI, Sri Lanka and West Indies, which went without any glitches.
Ehsan Mani noted that the Asian Cricket Council annual general body meeting held in Lahore last week was a good step forward for Pakistan cricket as ICC's CEO Dave Richardson was also present and except for India, all the ACC member nations sent their representatives.
The aftermath of the terrorist attacks in 2009 is still felt. Pakistan is still not completely safe for other teams to come on a full tour. As things stand if PCB chairman Ehsan Mani can convince Australia to play two ODI’s in Pakistan next year March, then that would certainly set the ball rolling for more cricket to be played on Pakistan soil.