Pakistan to play Sri Lanka in first home Test since 2009

Sri Lanka played in Pakistan earlier this year in limited overs matches
Sri Lanka played in Pakistan earlier this year in limited overs matches

Pakistan will play a Test at home for the first time since 2009 after announcing a two-match series against Sri Lanka in December.

There has not been a Test in Pakistan since the Sri Lanka team bus was attacked in Lahore 10 years ago.

Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed in the attack, while a number of the Sri Lanka team were wounded.

The two matches will form part of the World Test Championship.

The first Test will be in Rawalpindi from 11-15 December, while the second will be in Karachi from 19-23 December.

"This is fabulous news for Pakistan and its reputation of being as safe and secure as any other country in the world," said Zakir Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board's director of international cricket.

"We are thankful to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) for agreeing to send their team for the longer version of the game, which will contribute significantly in the PCB's efforts and drive for regular resumption of international cricket."

Pakistan started playing the majority of their 'home' internationals in the United Arab Emirates after the 2009 attack.

In 2015, they hosted Zimbabwe in Pakistan and played three one-day internationals as well as two Twenty20 internationals in a series that was overshadowed by a suicide bombing outside the Lahore stadium.

Sri Lanka played three ODIs and three T20 matches there in September and October, although some of their main players chose not to take part.external-link

"We are pleased to confirm our return visit to Pakistan as, based on our earlier visit, we are comfortable and convinced conditions are suitable and conducive for Test cricket," said SLC chief executive Ashley de Silva.

PCB managing director Wasim Khan told BBC Asian Network that teams who visit Pakistan will receive "state-like security".

He added England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison had been to the country recently and hopes England will visit in 2022, as scheduled.

"I've been saying for a long time that Pakistan is safe," he said. "Cricket is thriving here. It's a young community now in Pakistan and everybody wants to see cricket back.

"We're hoping that the restrictions will start to reduce in terms of what countries are demanding around security."

He added: "For us, this is now about starting to lay the foundations for England to come back and play Test cricket here in 2022.

"We've invited South Africa to play a T20 series at the end of March. We are very hopeful that will come through.

"We are also at advanced stages with the MCC to come and tour Pakistan, which we are planning for in February before the Pakistan Super League starts.

"Things are starting to move in the right direction for us."

I would definitely go back - Farbrace

Warwickshire sport director Paul Farbrace, the former Sri Lanka assistant coach, was on the team bus during the attack.

"I've spoken to quite a few players who have been back to Pakistan. I would definitely go back," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"The thought of sport going back and cricket going back to Pakistan is vital for young kids growing up in that country."

He added: "I don't think any cricket board will force any player to go. Sri Lanka went there recently and not all of the main players went.

"It will take a little bit of time for teams to start to go to Pakistan. The players will do the selling; they will come back and say 'it's fantastic, you have to go there as there is no issue'."

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