Cricket is coming home and this time in volume

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September to November: World XI, Sri Lanka and the West Indies  

Today (Tuesday), the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced the dates for the upcoming three match Twenty-Twenty series Sri Lanka is set to play in Pakistan, of which at least one will be held in Lahore.

2009 onwards, Pakistan was completely starved for international cricket. It was not until 2015 that the PCB managed to convince minnows Zimbabwe to give Pakistan a chance, and it was only this very year that the PSL final concluded in Lahore.

Now, the country is set to host three different international cricket series in the coming quarter against, test sides Sri Lanka, and West Indies, as well as the ICC World XI squad.

Given the tenacity of our years of isolation, the coming three months can be called nothing short of a packed home season for the national cricket team.

It looks like Pakistan’s tours of Zimbabwe and hosting the PSL final in Lahore is paying off. Moreover, the international sympathy Pakistan has gotten in the past years was only bolstered by their assent to No 1 in Test Cricket and the Champions Trophy victory this year.

After a nearly decade long, unintended, and unwanted hiatus as a cricketing venue, three prospective international series, confirmed for the time being, stand ready to tour Pakistan in as many months.

As explained by PCB chief Najam Sethi “This is a very big thing. September, October and November are big months. It’s a big agenda, we need your prayers and we will open the doors and international teams will come. Pray that we keep our security solid. The Punjab government has given us the signal and preparations are in full swing.”

It is a hectic schedule, to say it meekly. But for once there will be a subdued sense of happiness when thinking of the logistical problems and out of touch ground staff. After all, the problems themselves indicate activity.

While at this point dates have only been announced for the Sri Lanka tour, it can easily be assumed what this string of cricketing action is going to look like.

September:

According to the PCB’s announcement on Tuesday, the Sri Lanka series will take place between September 28 and October 2. It must be remembered that only one match will be held in Lahore. The ultimate symbolic redemption will not have long however, as the visitors will have to be shuttled around to whatever the venues for the other two games are going to be.

Before Sri Lanka take to the field at Gadaffi and the 2009 attack comes full circle, there will be another milestone. The long awaited tour of the ICC World XI, not used since its inception for use against Australia in the 2005 ICC ‘Super Series,’ will take place in Lahore. It will easily be a week or two ahead of the Sri Lanka tour and its smooth sailing will be imperative to the coming through of Sri Lanka’s visit promise. The dates have indeed been chosen strategically, this will be the final assurance for the prospective visitors. The matches will also be a great crowd puller given names such as Hashim Amla, Paul Collingwood and Imran Tahir are floating around.

October:

This month will be critical, With the West Indies having agreed to a three match T-20 series, they will be expecting a spotless security run from the nation in the month that leads to their arrival. Many of their players have already visited Pakistan, taking part in the PSL final. Once again, the crowds will be massive considering the return of Chris Gayle and others to the international scene

November:

The PCB will want to move quickly onto the next thing, and while leaving the entire month of October is not ideal, they will want to host the Windies right of the bat in November. A series can be expected early in the month, and given everything goes well, all three matches might be played at Gadaffi.

It will of course be interesting to see how the PCB and the touring squads handle the situation. It will be even more interesting to see how locals handle it, given the strict traffic and curfew-like atmosphere that is sure to engulf wherever the contests happen. Gaining long term support is also more difficult than in the short term, and patience is a valuable commodity. The games will no longer be a single night nor in the same city. But come what may, for now at least, it looks like both Pakistan and their friends in cricket seem determined to make this three month stretch happen.